I 'read' this book in its audio format so my enjoyment was impacted by a number of factors: the plot, quality of the story, style of the telling, characterisation and finally the narration. Ideally I would like to be able to assess the two components (the story and the narration) separately but actually find the narration has too much direct impact on my views of the story to do this effectively.
This is a mystery/thriller and is a beautifully crafted tale that takes the listener deep into a darker side of the world of internet hook-ups. It plunges straight into a series of brutal murders. It is blunt and graphic and violent and horrific. The murders are descriptive, grossly so, with descriptions of sights, sounds, smells and feelings giving a sense of realism to the scenes. It was almost like being plunged into an episode of Criminal Minds.
During the early part of the story, we are introduced to the various murder victims before they face their final moments. Even though each of these characters only play a short role, the author does a wonderful job of bringing a real personal element to each one. He describes their homes, personal traits and provides an insight into each man's emotional state. We learn how feel about their online hookups and the men they meet and what they are really looking for in life - and all are looking for love.
Ed Comparetto is the main focus of the story (apart from the killer). He is a cop who gets caught up in the murder investigation but ultimately gets suspended. I am not sure why the killer singled Ed out but contact from the killer and a desire to get his job back gives him no choice but to solve the mystery himself. While going through this really difficult period in his life, Ed meets Peter, which adds a romance element to the story. But mostly this story is focused on Ed's efforts to catch the killer.
It is difficult to talk about the killer and other characters without giving away the plot so I will keep it short. I thought the character of the killer was brilliant. He was perfectly creepy and his true evil nature was evident. There were some devices used in the story (such as diary entries) which provided a fabulous view into the past and the pyschy of the killer. A word of warning that the story does have some scenes, apart from graphic murder, that could be upsetting to some readers (pedophilia and rape references).
Now to the narration which was brilliant! I am not an expert (I've only listened to 3 other audio books) but truly believe this guy (Taavi Mark) got it right. The accents were perfectly suited to each character and he switched effortlessly between them.
He mastered the voice of the killer, truly adding a real sense of creepiness. The voice is breathy but chilling. It was quite clever how the killer's breathy voice deepened when he was switching into character for his IM hook ups which even included when he was reading them.
This story had large sections of dialogue and switched between different characters points of view so it was even more important to get the voices right - it wasn't just small sentences here and there but large tracts of narration while in character. One of the significant characters was female and I found her voice (the pitch, tone, accent and inflections) perfect!
It is really hard to make this claim because I hadn't read the book first but I'm going to put it out there anyway - I think listening to this book actually added to my enjoyment. I felt the use of the voices, particularly the killer and his family member, actually helped immerse me into the story, added to the atmosphere and gave a great sense of the emotion.
In summary, I highly recommend this story for lovers of a good graphic, murder thriller (it's focus is not romance) and the audio book is excellent.
I'm not an overly huge fan of audio book in that, if given a choice, I'd rather read a book that listen. That being said, there are times that I can't read so I'd rather listen than miss the experience altogether.
Driving is one of those times. I work in varying locations with different length commutes. But usually I'm driving 30-60 mins each way a few times a week. So this can be 6 hours of 'reading' time.
Some audio books I've loved, others I've enjoyed, a couple I've hated. Sometimes it's the story and sometimes it's the narration and sometimes it's hard to separate the two.
The narration was good. I liked the accents, inflections and the general voicing of the characters. At parts it was a little slow but I think that's more a factor of the level of description in a book that sometime just doesn't translate perfectly into a slower narration - when you speed read, it doesn't slow things down, but it can when listening to a book being narrated at a nice, even pace.
Anyway, the overall narration was good and didn't detract from the story. I liked the interpretation of the characters and could picture them in my head. They sounded just like I thought they should.
But what really stood out for me was the story itself. And the highlight? It was the older characters - Richard was a grandfather (admittedly a young one)
I loved to see an older man who'd maybe made some mistakes in his youth and eventually sacrificed so much of his own life, get his own man. His man is hot - ex-military and a wonderful guy. Together - perfect!
These guys are so realistic. They aren't necessary toned and terrific. They shows the signs of their age and the life they've lead. They make mistakes, they argue a bit - they are real.
And the age adds a lovely touch of humour. Such as the scene where Richard and Logan are struggling with the condom wrapper - it's hard for two middle age guys to read that tiny print of the expiry date and Richard's worried when he grabs his reading glasses to take a closer look that it's not too sexy!
I would highly recommend this lovely story - great characters, not the usual sexy, young things but real men plus a cute kid (and yes he was cute not annoying, some interesting secondary characters and a nice touch of drama. Oh, and the sex of course!
I read this book back in 2012 and loved it - 5 stars and straight onto my Favourites shelf! So when I found out the audio version was available there was no doubt that it was time for a re-read (well, really it was a first-time listen).
Because I had read and loved this story so much I was looking forward to listening to the audio version. I was nervous though, worried that the narration would not do justice to the story. I needn't have worried, JP Handler, did a great job of bringing Theo's story to life.
This is a wonderful story of someone's grieving and reawakening process as Theo mourns the loss of the love of his life but then finds he can finally open his heart to love again. It is a story about love and friends and families. It also has a strong message about abuse and people in need, with a number of characters being involved with a shelter.
The book starts about 12 months after Ben's death. It is jam packed full of flashbacks - flashbacks of Theo's time with Ben and flashbacks of Theo's past 12 months.
Theo has closed himself off from most people, apart from his assistant Maggie, but it is the arrival of some new people in his life that sets him on the road to recovery - his interns, his new friend Peter and his online forum friend Morgan.
I'm not going to say much about the story itself, accept to say that it is engaging and emotional and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was also very impressed with the narration, particularly the gorgeous Italian accents of Ben and his brother Marco, which were so sexy.
This audio book comes highly recommended. It is not a fast story, at times, at least in the audio version, it can be a little slow, but it is heartbreaking and heartwarming and so worth the journey. This still stays a 5 star read for me.
This was another book I listened to by audio version and I really enjoyed it. The narrator, Richard Magnus, together with an engrossing story, kept me riveted for the whole 7 hour duration.
This story was a journey. It is the story of Thomas Edward who is swept up into the world of Dondi and his brother Matthew. Dondi and Matthew's upbringing is a world away from Thomas Edward's own background and the character's themselves are unique.
The story begins with Thomas Edward having a relationship with Dondi. But Dondi isn't the sort of man to be tied down in a relationship. However his friendship with Thomas Edward maintains steadfast and he flits in and out of his life. Importantly, he introduces Thomas Edward to his unusual family including his brother, Matthew.
This is a story of love and family and craziness. It's interesting and unique. It's emotional and it's sad. Somewhat into the story I began to expect what the outcome might be but it made it no less emotional.
This is an interesting one for me to review because I did find the experience of reading the book and listening to the audio version different. I really enjoyed the book, and the rest of the series I have read so far - 4.5 stars for all the action and the simmering relationships - but the audio didn't sit as well with me.
I wonder if this is because I read the books first and one impression of the characters in my head and it didn't match the narrator and the accents he provided? Anyway, if you are unsure if the narrator, Stan Jensen is for you, do check out the audio sample before buying the book. But if you don't go down the audio path, definitely buy the books!
From my original review....."You need to suspend the disbelief that a high proportion of these elite military men are gay or bi, and just accept that Wild Bluff Ranch is a totally hot place to be!"
I listened to this in the audio version. Chip Wood, the narrator, did a brilliant job bringing the story to life. At just under 2 hours, it was relatively short in audio book terms (at least compared to some I've read) so would be a good intro book for someone who isn't sure if audiobook format is for them.
This is a friends-to-lovers Valentine's themed story and follows Logan and Chase as they finally come together after years of being in love with one another.
The story was sweet, over-the-top emotions - but sometimes you just need lots of warm and fuzzy declarations of love!
Maybe With A Chance of Certainty (book 1)
I bought this book (and the rest of the series) and obviously started with this one first - duh! I read and LOVED it. Then I had the chance to listen to the audio version. And WOW!
If I thought I enjoyed the story the first time round, the audio version just improved on it. The narrator, Michael Stellman, enhances the story and takes nothing away. It was so interesting to compare my thoughts on the story from my own reading experience versus my thoughts from the listening experience. Sometimes the narrator's voice and style doesn't match the characters I have built in my head but this one hit the nail on the head - brilliant! Michael Stellman's voice captured Kyle perfectly with a real sense of youth and emotion.
I loved the style of writing and characters were totally wonderful. I loved the emotion and challenge of growing up. I loved the nerd and the jock facing life head on. I loved public confrontations and grand gestures. But most of all I loved the strength and honesty.
I wouldn't usually come right out and recommend an audio book over the ebook or print edition (I'm a bit old-school that way and prefer the characters in my head) but this is the reverse for me. I actually originally rated the written book as a 4/4.5 but it is now a definite 5 and moving to my favourites shelf!
End of the Beginning (Book 2)
This is the second book in the series and part of the Tales From Foster High audio book so I listened to rather than read this book. As with the first book, I LOVED this is it's audio form. The narrator's voice was just brilliant, catching the teenage voice of Brad.
Here we have Brad's point of view as he agonises over the events of the past couple of days. Coming out in front of the whole school was a spur of the moment decision and Brad wonders if he made the right choice. It was sad to watch him go from the top of the school social ladder to pretty much the bottom but his strength lay in how he handled himself.
It's such an interesting look at the real person behind the facade. Brad may have had the looks, the status, his sporting prowess, a big home and a nice car but this didn't make him happy in his heart. I loved the character development in this story.
Raise Your Glass (Book 3)
When times get tough, you really find out what people are made of and in this book Brad and Kyle totally shine, particularly Kyle who is no longer a wall flower and very much the centre of attention.
The experiences the boys go through as they return to school are heartbreaking. As to be expected, the reaction from the other students is not positive and Brad and Kyle are tormented for their sexuality. But it is the reaction of the adults - the teachers and authority figures - that is the most shameful. This is tough look at what life can be like for young people who don't conform to what other people deem as being acceptable - bullying and lack of support. But there is a positive ending as support comes from some unexpected places.
I liked the message from the author at the end of the book, an anti-bullying message, to remind people they are never alone and remind us, the reader, that although this story is a work of fiction, bullying is an all too common occurrence that can have tragic consequences.
I cannot speak more highly of Michael Stellman. He did a wonderful job of narrating Tales from Foster High and I believe his voice is perfectly suited to the telling of a YA story.
This re-read was so interesting because it was via listening to the audio book. I still loved this story the second time around - it was beautiful, sad and inspiring.
This book is definitely worth reading. It is a well crafted story of what happens after Dan meets Adam. In the story we also meet Mark and Sullivan. All four characters are unique and all are hurting in some way. Life and relationships are not easy.
"It made him think about fate, about timing, and about how people appeared to one another at times when they most needed each other. His mother used to say that people came into our lives for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime."
There was a real sense of the time and place provided by the references to music of the time and wonderful descriptions of the hot and humid Tampa location.
I was totally swept up into the life of Dan and the unexpected journey he finds himself on. From meeting Adam, his AIDS Alliance buddy, to dealing with Mark, his very troubled and drug addicted boyfriend, to befriending Sullivan, Adam's boyfriend as they both deal with Adam's struggle.
Adam is a highlight of the book as he confronts the ravages of his disease. From the first moment he is introduced, he makes an impression. Everyone should be so lucky to have an Adam in their life - obviously not the heartbreak and death - but someone who can show what life is really all about, someone who can teach us about love and courage.
In terms of the audio, I think Taavi Mark did a wonderful job of narrating this story. I enjoyed the quality of his voice and found it suited the style of the book and the characters. He provided good distinction between the character voices and the pacing was excellent.
I read Bear, Otter, and the Kid in 2012 and absolutely loved the beautiful story of family and love. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to get to Who We Are but when I was looking for a new audio book to listen to, it seemed a great time to continue the story.
This is a story of Bear and Otter, wrapped in each other's love, facing the next steps in their future.
"....I came back for you, and I promised myself that I was never going to let you go again." He sighs. "All I want is to grow old with you and know that one day, it'll just be you and me, that we'll be able to look back and be proud of what we've done with our lives. I want to know that you belong to me and I belong to you. I love you with everything I have and I can promise you what I'll never ever stop. I couldn't, even if I wanted to. It won't be perfect, Bear, nothing ever really is. There will be days when we are angry with each other, and days where it seems the world is a fucking messed up place, but it won't matter. Because I'll have you and the Kid and you'll both have me....."
The blurb provides a really good indication of the journey this book takes - it's full of love and family, happiness and sadness, heartache and jealously, death and new life - hilarious one minute to warm and sweet the next to shedding tears - definitely an emotional journey!
As far as being a tearjerker, there was a section of this book that had tears streaming down my face as some of the book seemed so relevant to recent events in the author's life. Those of you who know or follow T J Klune will know exactly what I am referring to...
The audio book is narrated by Charlie David and I loved the way he voiced this book. It is obvious that the narration is by an actor. Charlie David really captures the emotion in the moment, not just reading the words from the pages. His pace is quite fast which I really, really like. It is not a slow, dragged out kind of reading, rather a vibrant and engaging telling of the story. I think he perfectly captures the characters and is wonderfully suited to the craziness of thoughts in Bear's head! The sex scenes are fabulous with the voice capturing passion and love. He could be soft and loving, funny and sarcastic, quite, thoughtful.......If you haven't checked out any audio books narrated by Charlie David, do give them a try!
And speaking of other books, there is good news! As we speak TJ Klune is working on the third book in the series. There is no release date as of yet but if the epilogue of this book is any indication, pretty soon we will be hearing more of the Kid!
Mixed thoughts on this one, partly because I 'read' by listening to the audio version (narrated by Jim Bowie).
As far as the story goes, it is short. Sam and Jake are flatmates who secretly desire each other but have never moved their relationship forward. Jake is a brainiac and a bit shy, keeping pretty much to himself. Sam is strong and doesn't say much. Unfortunately he doesn't say much in this story either and I would have loved to hear more from him!
Zack is Sam's Aussie guest who brings them together by initiating a quick three-way. The romantic in me says 'not ideal' as the interaction with Zach is purely physical and I just wanted to see Sam and Jake together. However Zack's actions worked a treat, he was happy being the third wheel and Sam and Jake were totally focused on each other so all good.
I listened to the audio version. It was about 30 minutes in total so I listened during one commute trip. I actually discovered that I prefer shorter audio books like this one. I think it's because I only like listening to them in the car and then reading in between so the longer ones get broken up too much with other books in between (unless I whispersync). Anyway, my thoughts on the narration with this one were that I liked the pace but wasn't overly fond of the narrator. I felt his voice sounded too 'old' or mature for the story and I wasn't overly keen on the Australian accent. In some instances it sounds ok but in others not so good.
I would probably recommend reading over listening in this case.
Daron's Guitar Chronicles Volume 1 is the first in a series of stories about the life of Daron, a young nineteen year old musician growing up in the 1980's in the world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.
Check out the author, Cecilia Tan's video (on YouTube) which tells a little about how this series of books came into being.
I actually listened so the audio version of this book and quite enjoyed the narration by Teddy Hamilton. His voice and inflections really seemed to suit the story and the character of Daron.
The story itself is part of a larger journey, and this book only covers a small part of Daron's life. In this first book, we are introduced to Daron and his struggles to find his path in life. With dysfunctional parents who he no longer really sees or talks to, he is out making it on his own. He is trying to get his band up and running while earning enough money to fund his college course. He is also struggling with his sexuality and everything that goes along with discovering who he really is and what he wants.
A large part of the story is taken up with Daron accepting a roadie gig with the band of a friend of his father's. As he travels the country he meets some interesting people and has some interesting encounters - from a couple of sexual exploits with men to being actively pursued by a girl also on the tour.
This is not a romance, this is a character driven tale that introduces Daron - he is sweet and insecure and a bit confused - and tempts the reader into the next book of the series where Daron's journey continues.
This is a relatively short book, at least I think it is. I have the Kindle version but listened to the Audio version which is just over 4 hours long (the audio versions always take much longer for me as my reading speed is heaps faster than the narration). But as usual it was a great way to spend my commute to work over a couple of days!
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