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.
Hmm.. Let's see... a semi- or even marginally believable plot would have helped save this mess... maybe. This novel doesn't have one. An editor would have been nice. The third time she used the expression "I could care less" I was certain this had to be self-published.
Then, when the main character said, "He proffered me a stool in which to sit on" I was certain of it. Turns out this was published by something called "Signal Press." Good luck figuring out who they are. One may, however, assume that they don't employ editors.
The plot is a mess. Donna, our "housewife assassin" lives in an upper-class, suburban white-bread community in which there are no redeeming characters and no one has either meaningful work or fulfilling lives. Her husband Carl is dead, but not dead, then back from the dead, only not back from the dead because Carl is really Jack, but then back from the dead again and then should have just stayed dead. Then you will WISH he was dead because the plot deteriorates from there!
Meanwhile, between carpool dates she is a paid assassin for the CIA and blithely goes along killing people whom no police agency ever notices.
And the best part is, she is - bar none - the absolute WORST parent you can imagine.
Stupid plot. Stupid premises. Really bad narration. She has two voices - male and female. And if you don't listen carefully, you'll get them mixed up. And, unfortunately, they are in a pitch and nasal range that will induce bleeding from the ears.
Stupid, stupid book and any claims to humor are a lie.
OK, you're probably thinking, "Oh, c'mon, hon, be honest, What did you REALLY think of this book?"
You've been warned.
Lately it seems that I'm out of step with other reviews in many cases. I am 2/3 of the way through this book and finding it a hard slog.
The book needs an editor so badly. Maybe teenage angst just doesn't float my boat, because that's a lot of what this book is about. Teenagers, as we all know, tend to consider themselves to be the center of the universe. These two teens are no exception and, in Jude's case, have raised it to an art form. And the author spares us no detail of their suffering and introspection. It goes on for page after page of endless self-talk, self-assessment, self-judgement and self-centeredness of every stripe - when they are not being angry at someone else. In some cases I found myself actually saying out loud, "OK, OK! I get it. You're sad/angry/pitiful/scared/whatever. Get ON with it!
And every once in a while something actually happens. Then.... more angst. Yawn.
If this is what passes for breathtaking prose in the 21st century, I may have to reassess my reading choices. The performances were OK. Ms. Whelan should not try to do British or Portuguese accents. She does OK with whiny American girl. Mr. Bernstein does fairly well with Noah, but the other characters are barely distinguishable from one another.
I strongly suspect I'll never slog all the way through this. Life is short and my time is precious and there are just too many books!
I Jack has "lost me." I recognize and appreciate Wilson's imagination, but Jack has lost his sense of humor ... and all connection to reality. This story has several cons I can't get past:
1. Very violent. Yes, I know they've all been violent, but this one seemed to go into overdrive.
2. Waaay too many coincidences. Wilson got away with them (IMHO) until this book. I experienced entirely too many "Wait... what?" moments.
3. I get that these books are dark, but this one is unrelenting. Jack's sense of humor is gone (it's the only way I can describe it.) This book takes itself VERY seriously.
Then... it just ended. There was no conclusion - no tying up of loose ends - no sense of completion. It just stopped. And when I thought, "What am I willing to endure in order to find out what happens next?" the answer was, "Nothing."
Repairman Jack is a great character whose potential is squandered in favor of boogymen and blood.
I wish Meyer would fix a couple of things:
1. Editing. There were three places where I was rolling my eyes impatiently at the seemingly endless detail about how seamen are trained and how the rigging is hung and how the ship is managed. So very, very, very much detail that I found myself wanting to do the audio-book version of skimming.
2. Screaming. Ms. Kellgren is very good but gosh how I hate the screaming. I'd be listening along, deep in some detail about foresails or Jackie's contemplation of something or other something and suddenly the narrator would be screaming in my poor, abused ears. I really didn't much appreciate it.
But, having said that...
Jackie Faber is a charming character. Her wit and courage and cleverness and girl-ness are extremely engaging. Everytime she'd go, "Wha...?" I could picture her incredulity or puzzlement and when she'd go, "Oh oh" I knew we were in trouble.
The other characters are interesting or funny or brave or smart or stupid or vile or sweet or charming and all develop depth as the stories proceed. I have grown very fond of many of them (especially Higgins) and I look forward to getting to know Jamie a little better now that things are ... um ... as they are.
As completely unbelievable as these tall tales are, I do enjoy them for sheer entertainment value. And if you ever have need to sail three-masted schooner, you'll feel like an expert.
I used to think "Wicked" was the worst book ever but I've changed my mind. I'm not finished with "Turning Angel" yet - I have about an hour left - and I don't think I am going to be able to finish it. There is nothing I can imagine that will elevate my opinion of this awful book. It has no redeeming qualities.
Or, if it does, they are buried in the miasma of detail about just about everyone who lives in Natchez, Mississippi delivered by THE worst performance I have ever encountered in all my years of listening to books.
There was, it would seem, no one in the town who was not somehow involved in the death of teenage respected paragon Kate Townsend, around which the story revolves. It needed an editor SO badly.
I was managing to deal with the credulity-straining events until Kate's 40-year-old lover, (respected paragon) Dr. Drew Elliott, is charged with capital murder and the trial is set for "next Wednesday." Wait - what?!
Of course, only in TV lawyer shows does anything go to trial that fast, but the rest of the book revolves around this trial (which, it appears, we will see nothing of) and Dr. Drew's (respected paragon) old friend, Penn Cage's efforts to figure out who really killed the girl - and why. Apparently the class valedictorian with early acceptance to Harvard was deeply involved in pretty much every rotten thing that was going on in Natchez. It's a wonder she could do her homework.
And the bodies begin to pile up. And pretty much each body requires a very long and unlikely sub-plot which provides enough lucky and/or handy coincidences to stock a store. And meanwhile Penn Cage and Mia, his (respected paragon) teenage babysitter (and class salutatorian with early acceptance to Brown) are not only investigating the murder - together (you see what's coming, right?) they are using their superpowers to add to the body count.
And the performance - oh, my. What can I say? Dick Hill is so very, very awful in this book that I wanted on occasion to scream. His tendency to chew the scenery is seriously distracting and his sighing, weeping, shouting, whispering, gasping, sniffing, huffing, chuckling, draaaaaawling delivery renders a bad story completely horrendous. He has a fairly decent range of male voices but his female voices have exactly one timbre - whiny. And he has no business even attempting a southern accent. He forces his voice so far up into his nose that it's a wonder his head doesn't explode.
OK, I could go on, but you've been warned. I'm asking for a refund for this turkey.
About an hour and a half into this, I was almost laughing and thinking, "This had to have been written by a 16-year-old boy with a lively imagination."
It starts with the coincidence of the storyteller's installation of two freezers, solar panels and storage batteries in his house. The house is in a new housing development in which the streets don't even have names, but the house is - ready for this? - surrounded by a 10 foot stone wall. TEN feet. Uh huh.
The main - and only - character starts hearing about an epidemic in Russia that is either West Nile Virus or a mysterious hemorrhagic fever like Ebola ... or both. The author doesn't seem to know what either is so they are used interchangeably and as if nobody else knows the difference either.
Almost from the first few minutes of the book, with no character development at all, civilization begins to break down and what follows in the story is simplistic, childish and poorly written that nothing could persuade me to devote any more time to this.
The narration was OK. He only has one voice to do and he mostly does that breathlessly. All emotions have only one expression. But I can't blame him because the story is so thin and the characters - such as they are - have the depth of potato chips.
This is just so bad. I'm giving it back to Audible.
Where to start? It's been quite a while since I read a Kinsey Milhone story but I had enjoyed them so when this showed up as a bargain, I jumped on it. Turns out that it was inexpensive for a reason.
Pros: It's fun to read a book set in 1988 and realize she didn't even have a computer! She bought a low-mileage 3yo Toyota for $3,500! She had a typewriter and filed paper! That part is fun.
Cons: Everything else.
1. The narrator is pretty bad. She has limited range and most of any variation she uses will "fade" if a dialogue lasts for a while and both characters will end up sounding like her Kinsey Milhone, And I didn't like her Kinsey at all. Too hard edged. I thought Ms. Kaye's timing was fairly poor as well so that Kinsey's "snap" was missing. She was just flat.
2. The editing! Oh sweet mother Mary and all the saints, this book needed an editor SO badly! I have to ask if Grafton was paid by the word. I can handle a lot of detail but the further I got in this book, the more obvious and grating the detail became. Would you like to know how many departments the hospital has phone numbers for? Kinsey will not only tell you, but she will name every one of them for you before she tells you she found and dialed the number for the critical care unit! The book is full of that kind of stuff and *that* is just the stuff that does absolutely NOthing to advance the plot, add atmosphere or enhance the character. It's just details seemingly for the sake of details.
3. More editing! I am 12 hours into a 14 and 1/2 hour reading and I want to scream at the snails pace of this story! No, that's wrong. Snails move faster!
4. The plot is becoming sillier by the minute and we are about to be treated to a plot twist that is so coincidental that the only thing that could be worse is if the author had said, "And then I took out my magic wand and..."
I suppose I'll finish it. But I may not. It's just not good at all.
Oh, and Henry has lost his personality. I can't tell if it's because of the narration or because Kaye phoned this in. Dietz showed up and it was BORING! What?!? Really?
I liked what I learned about Mozart. Most interesting material. I would have liked Professor Greenberg to dial back his presentation about 30%.
He seems to be "chewing the scenery" in his apparent desire to bring the characters to life ... and to make his points. I was particularly distracted and often put off by his tendency to dramatize the reading of Mozart's correspondence - both from him and to him - in such a way as to almost make caricatures of the writers. It bordered on childish. There were many letters he read that I thought, had he read them rather than "performed" them, the meanings might not have been what he seemed to want us to believe they were.
Overall, I'm glad I listened to this course and will likely listen to others from Greenberg on the Great Masters, but this was a bit disappointing.
I had to struggle to stay with this book for quite a while. The author takes quite a long time to build the stories of the various characters and my struggle was mostly with the narrator whose voice I found terribly grating and whose narration I found less than stellar. The harshness of her voiuce was distracting most of the time and her characters were not easy to keep track of.
Having said that, I'm very glad I stuck it out because I did eventually get caught up in the building drama in spite of the seemingly mundane setting. As the characters began to take on depth and become "real" and recognizable, I began to appreciate the skill of the author in building tension. And when the denouement finally "hit," I gasped.
I really liked this book. It sparked curiosity, humor, fright, sadness, anger and frustration and I really came to care about the characters. It was of "Gone Girl" caliber, in my opinion. I have to wonder what a spectacular experience it might have been if the narration had been better.
I'd still recommend it, however. Be patient while you get to know the characters and eventually, you'll be completely hooked.
Maisie Dobbs is an investigator in London in 1930. There is nothing predictable about her. She's a fascinating, complicated, multi-dimensional character whose depth continues to grow as I get acquainted. The new narrator took a bit of getting used to, but I find I like her performance just fine (although I found her anglicized pronunciation of the Frenchman Maurice Blanche's name to be distracting, reduced to Morris Blanch.)
The Dobbs stories contain a bit of mysticism and this is the darkest so far in the series as Maisie and her contemporaries continue to deal with the aftermath of WW I. I have developed a new appreciation for the scope of that terrible conflict as a result of this series. In spite of its darkness and the serious nature of her investigations related to finding out about two lost airmen in France, the story is not a "downer." It's more "realistic" ... with some spooky stuff.
The resolution will strain your credulity a little bit, but I can deal with that for the sake of a really good story... and this is a really good story.
I liked "Pardonable Lies" a great deal and I am not hesitating to purchase and download book 4 in the series.
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