In my opinion, this book is the only standalone story in this series since The B-Team (first episode). It is clever and humorous, yet within the realm of The Human Division sci-fi background. I would definitely recommend this for a light 58-minute listen!
STORY (zombie fiction) - Audible categorizes this book as Teens Age 11-13, but I disagree. The main character (Benny) has just turned 15, and during the book he grows up in a very bleak California after the zombie apocalypse. I can definitely imagine adults enjoying this book if you are drawn to the subject matter. I am totally not a zombie listener, but I purchased this book because it seemed like it would have a good coming-of-age story underlying all the zombie violence. It does. Benny learns about survival, truth, morality and love. (This is definitely not a romance, but Benny does fall for a sweet girl).
The problem I had with the story is that it moves slowly, IMHO. Yes, there's lots of zombie killing and action, and many people have given glowing reviews. Maybe I just dislike the zombie genre more than I think I do. Even though the story is sweet, it wasn't enough to hold my interest through all the action and violence. I will say that the book is well-written and has some great characters.
PERFORMANCE - Good job, but nothing special about it.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this book for teens older than 13 and for adults, but you probably need to be someone who really enjoys zombie books to thoroughly enjoy this story. There's lots of gross zombie descriptions and lots of killing. Other than that, it's a pretty clean book -- no sex and only minor profanity, if any. This is Book 1 of a series, but it stands alone. I won't be continuing the series.
STORY (comedy) - Cabin Pressure is apparently a British radio show about a zany private airline crew. I didn't count, but there were maybe five short episodes in this audiobook. The characters are likeable and some of the situations are clever and made me chuckle, but for the most part I was only moderately entertained.
PERFORMANCE - This series is done by a wonderful professional cast, all with British accents and distinguishable voices. It sounds much like watching a sitcom, complete with a live audience and lots of great sound effects. Five-star performance, for sure.
OVERALL - This series is apparently popular and highly rated but not my cup of tea. If you like British humor, you probably should check it out. It's very "clean" with no sexual references, violence or bad language.
STORY (contemporary romance) - This story is set in present day Australia. The female lead (Anthea) is a successful actress and the male lead (Cole) is a blind farmer. She comes to his farm so she can prepare to audition for a role as a farmer's wife. She lies about who she is because (a) he's blind and won't know and (b) she tormented him in school as a child because he was a poor farm boy. But he's also deceiving her because he knows who she really is. Anyway, it's complicated, but they begin a relationship.
And what a relationship it is!! Cole has never had a girlfriend before because he never leaves his farm, but he listens to romance novels so he knows how women like to be loved and treated. He's so gentle and sweet and romantic I think I'm in love with him! The only reason I didn't rate the book a five is because I wasn't crazy about the first part. You have to wait for it a little, but it's worth it in the end.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator has a lovely voice and does a good job. Her Australian accent is refreshingly different.
OVERALL (actual rating 4.5) - There's a couple pretty sexy scenes, but they're very sweet and not overly explicit. I don't recall any bad language. This is definitely a feel-good book for those who enjoy sweet romances with awesome endings.
STORY (mystery) - Syndrome E is an enjoyable book, but not something you want to listen to as you're trying to fall asleep! As the summary suggests, it's based around a violent film containing subliminal images which cause strange behavior in others. A young female cop and an older male detective work together to solve the mystery of the film and the murders it has inspired. Most of the story takes place in France and Belgium, but there are trips to Canada and Egypt to follow leads. There are scenes in the film which are gruesome, and there are mutilations involved with the murders. I wouldn't have been able to listen to these murders as they occurred but, thankfully, they are all described after the fact with just a brief description of the atrocities.
The final solution to the mystery of the film is interesting but it's pretty far-fetched. I still had questions left unanswered in the end, and I'm not sure if the story is to blame or the fact that I was only able to listen to it in lots of short, disjointed sessions.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is male with what I would call a French accent. His voice is very low, which I think works perfectly with the sinister plot of this book.
OVERALL (actual rating 3.5) - I would recommend this for mature men/women who might find psychological manipulation interesting and are fine with violent scenes. There's a teeny bit of romance and even a teenier bit of sex. Oh, and a small amount of profanity.
STORY (romance/fantasy) - The Selkie Spell is a beautifully written story about a young American woman (Tara) who is fleeing from her abusive husband. With a new identity and trusting no one, she drifts from place to place, finally landing on a tiny Irish island which has an ancient secret of its own. It is here on this island that Tara hopes to find temporary safety and peace, but she finds much, much more.
There is a lot to this story. The legend of the Selkies is interesting (and you can read more about it online). I enjoyed the description of the island, its quaint village and its beauty. It is interesting as Tara's story unfolds and you learn who she really is and why she is on the run. The romance is sweet and sexy, and I loved the way the story ended.
PERFORMANCE - I've never listened to this narrator before, but she has a warm, velvety voice. She does a good job differentiating between the various characters and expressing their emotions. I appreciated her attempt at Texas accents for a few of the characters but, as a Texan myself, I can gladly say that very few of us talk that way! Her Irish accents seemed authentic enough and fit well with the story.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this for women looking for a romantic escape. There's a small amount of profanity and violence. There is some sex, but in my opinion it's not particularly graphic or overdone. This is the first book in a series, but it stands alone.
STORY (historical fiction) - Lt. Commander Gar Hammond commands the American submarine Dragonfish. He and his crew have been asked to do the impossible -- navigate the dangerous Bungo Suido strait into an inland sea of Japan, singlehandedly destroy the largest aircraft carrier in the world, then navigate back through said dangerous Bungo Suido and escape to safety. Bungo Suido contains the ghosts of several American subs who have been unable to safely navigate her waters due to low tides, dangerous currents, mines and -- oh, yes -- the fact that there's a huge Japanese naval base there, complete with destroyers and bomber aircraft.
I loved the submarine action and wish it had lasted the whole book, but it doesn't. There's also a large part of the book that takes place on land in Japan and also in Pearl Harbor, which was not as interesting to Yours Truly and, therefore, seemed a little slow IMHO. I don't want to give too much away, but this part of the book involves prison camps, Hiroshima and military legal proceedings. Interesting, but what attracted me to this book was the sub action.
PERFORMANCE - I know Dick Hill is a popular Audible narrator but I don't like him. Never have, never will. His reading style is choppy and breathless, and his female characters are horrible.
OVERALL - Good book. I'd recommend this for males or females, whether you particularly enjoy historical fiction or not. (It's not my favorite genre, but I really liked this book). There's lots of action and it affords a view of the war from characters who are actually inside Japan as things are happening. There's a sprinkling of F-words and a few very small references to sexual encounters.
STORY (teenage fiction) - Leonard Peacock plans to shoot himself today, after he says goodbye to four people who are very important to him. You will be "in the head" of this troubled teen as he goes to school that last day, his 18th birthday, with a gun in his backpack. You will learn what's important to him and what isn't, who he loves and who he hates, and ultimately why he's planning to take his own life. Throughout the day Leonard (who's very intelligent) talks about Hamlet, Humphrey Bogart, the Holocaust, atheism, his first kiss, same-sex relations and why he wants to shoot his ex-best friend before turning the gun on himself.
This book was beautifully written. You will feel sorry for Leonard, but at the same time you will root for him to see and embrace his own strengths. The day you spend inside Leonard's head is not overdramatized or predictable. To the contrary, it feels very real. (The author gives credit to multiple mental health professionals who reviewed the book for authenticity). In the end the message is clear: Never lose sight of the light. Things will get better!
PERFORMANCE - I don't know how old this narrator was, but he did a great job of performing the complex feelings and emotions of 18-year-old Leonard Peacock. Other characters were performed equally as well.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this book to all males/females high school age and older. Teachers, parents, students, kids who are picked on or depressed, class bullies -- there's something for everyone to learn here. Some sexual situations are described, and there is some cursing.
STORY (mystery) - I really loved this book. Thomas, a schizophrenic who spends his time memorizing maps on an ap called World360, thinks he sees the frozen image of a woman being suffocated in the window of a New York hi-rise. He and his brother, Ray, investigate. There's so much that happens in this story and so many unexpected surprises that I can't possibly give it justice in this review. Aside from the image of the woman with the plastic bag over her head, there are a couple other mysteries which are equally exciting as they unravel. The plot is complicated but not hard to follow, so you don't have to wear a thinking cap to enjoy it. Also, the author manages to inject a bit of humor occasionally. Great stuff!
PERFORMANCE - Good job, but I reserve five stars for stellar multi-voice performances. This reader does a great old woman's voice.
OVERALL - Highly recommended for all mature listeners. There's some profanity and references to sexual acts and lesbianism, though there are no actual sex "scenes" in the book. There is also occasional violence.
STORY (humorous mystery) - This was my first venture into the detective world of Chet and Bernie. In this book they're hired to find a boy who disappeared from wilderness camp. The mystery and investigation are good, but what makes this book refreshing is that it's told from Chet's point of view...and Chet is a dog. Hiking adventures and crooked small-town police are woven into the story, but there is lots of what I call Chet's "doggy digressions" in between. He will be talking about what's happening, and then he will go off on a tangent about how he loves bacon or how proud he is of his master, Bernie. Sometimes he will lose his train of thought completely.
There's LOTS AND LOTS of stuff kind of like this: We finally made it to Jackrabbit Junction. I don't know why they call it that because I don't smell any jackrabbits. I chased a rabbit once and it was lots of fun. That was in the case where we were looking for Slippery Sam. He's wearing an orange suit now somewhere upstate. Anyway, Jackrabbit Junction is a small town with...(and then gets back on track with the story). It's cute and refreshing for a while, but I soon tired of the novelty and just wanted to hear how the mystery was wrapped up. I probably won't listen to any more books in this series.
PERFORMANCE - Nice job! He had a good rhythm which complemented how a dog might be thinking and trying to speak, but it didn't detract from the story he was telling.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this for children and adults both EXCEPT for about six or seven F-bombs which pop up sporadically. You must be in the mood for a light mystery and lots of slightly humorous dog thoughts. The story stands alone.
STORY (historical romance) - I like contemporary romances much better than historical ones, but this one is actually pretty good. It has the usual issue -- someone from the upper class falls for someone from the lower -- but this book has a lot of other stuff going on that makes it much better. Olivia is an English Dutchess whose husband has just died, and Jack is a scoundrel. They've been thrown together in a most unusual way, and they end up living in the same house and Jack is appointed to be guardian for Olivia's son.
Needless to say, they end up having the hots for each other. I subtracted a star from this book primarily because I got sick and tired of them constantly thinking about each other and trying to analyze their feelings and what they should do about them. Enough!!!! But nevertheless, the story is good and their feelings for each other become genuine. The author has a talent for writing very hot scenes in a unique way that has great tenderness and also maintains an element of class.
PERFORMANCE - I love Susan Ericksen from the In Death series, and she continues to deliver. Her voice lends itself to portray men and women nicely, and her natural English accent is lovely. She doesn't distinguish much between characters but does some pretty good cockney accents and the voice of a young boy.
OVERALL - This is Book 2 in the series, but it's the first I've listened to. I can't comment on its relation to the rest of the series, but it can stand completely on its own. There's no profanity, but there is lots of thinking about sex and also some pretty explicit sexual acts. Recommended for mature females only. Definitely not for guys.
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