Terser plot, less attention to pointless details, less hackneyed characters, a more compelling main character, more thought given to dialog and character development, fewer lengthy scenes in which some everyday activity is described in excruciating detail for no apparent reason. Also a top-notch reader can make me like just about anything.
Oh, so many things.I like "everyman" detectives better than the super-geniuses, but I had the majority of the plot figured out 1/4 of the way through this book, and the characters were dull and unlikable. Joe Pickett is naive, incompetent, and gullible. He is surrounded by straight-up moustache-twirling villains but can't recognize them for what they are. His wife is pretty and rather pointless as a character, her mother is predictably irritating. The children are basically plot devices.I had only the vaguest sense of the appearance of the characters and of the setting, but I got a disproportionate amount of detail at odd moments - for example, an excruciatingly detailed account of every Cheerio fed to a small animal by one of the children. BORING.I also got a bit annoyed right off the bat for what I'll admit is a somewhat superficial reason. As a minor bit of background detail, we learn that the main character's family had a kitten and later a puppy that were both eaten by coyotes. This is described as a family of animal-lovers, and I get that bad stuff happens, but how did both of these animals end up outside, unattended, long enough to get eaten by coyotes? The children were unaware of the fate of their pets so presumably they weren't playing with the critters outside. It was, like I said, a VERY MINOR POINT, but it still colored the way I thought of these people. These are people who were either dumb enough to leave two baby animals outside, alone, where they could be killed by the local wildlife (and the main character is a GAME WARDEN, it isn't like they're ignorant), or they are just so careless that both animals escaped the house and were left to fend for themselves. Obviously, it bothered me, and I found I didn't care for the Picketts.The author does not present information in a way that is interesting or insightful. It was plodding and quotidian. The author also tends to summarize what a character has said instead of revealing the actual dialog, which left me feeling cheated out of meaningful insights into the characters. I mean, the difference between "Joe told her he had a stressful day, and she seemed to understand," and an actual back-and-forth interaction between the couple is huge. I sometimes felt like I was reading case notes instead of a novel. Not fun.Where conversations occur, Pickett doesn't say much, but the other characters go off on improbably long diatribes about their own opinions with a fair amount of regularity. It doesn't ring true, and that's always especially noticeable in audiobooks.
I didn't hate him, and his voice wasn't annoying or anything, he just lacked panache. I've been spoiled by George Guidall, Barbara Rosenblat, Rosalyn Landor, Simon Prebble, etc. Also, a lot of the Southern and Western vernacular just didn't work. Imagine a straightlaced newscaster trying to sell lines like "They was out-of-staters," and you get the idea. The dialog (such as it was) all sounded a bit stilted.
None that I can think of.
I have obviously been spoiled by Craig Johnson's "Longmire" series. I'd recommend "The Cold Dish" to anyone (and I have! To lots of people!), but I'll never mention this one to anybody. However: this book seems to have huge rave reviews from lots of readers and a handful of mystified readers for whom the book just fell flat: maybe download a sample and see which kind of reader you are? I'm definitely in the latter camp.
I'm not sure what a reader is supposed to get out of this. There wasn't really a mystery here, there was no character development, no insights into Bosch's life, past, relationships, approach to detective work, nothing.
I love Michael Connelly and have enjoyed (almost) all of his full-length novels, but this was a baffling disappointment and an empty reading experience - I thought I'd relish even a little dose of Bosch while I eagerly anticipate "The Burning Room," but I'd have been better off just waiting for the novel.
I really enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, and although I didn't like Shadow of Night quite as much, I had high hopes for The Book of Life. This book has gotten fantastic reviews, so it obviously works for most people. If you loved both of the previous books, you probably don't need me to tell you that you'll like this one, too. BUT. If you were beginning to have some doubts by book 2, you might want to save your money (or your credit) for something else.
Characters move from city to city, discuss the incredibly urgent danger they face (but don't do anything about it), bicker, travel, drink tea, and discuss how possessive Matthew is about Diana. There is a seemingly endless review of vampire family politics and legal issues, and there is a huge cast of characters, although most of them are superfluous to the plot. Somehow Ms. Harkness made this all work in the first two books, but it felt to me like she had lost the rhythm and pace of the story in BOL. There is too much telling, not enough doing; too many plot points that go nowhere. There are many conversations that cover ground that has already been tread and retread in earlier chapters - I felt totally bogged down for the first 18 hours or so of listening.
I so wanted to enjoy this book! I found the first two difficult to put down, but this one was all too easy to set aside. The ending was fine, but I'm still not sure it was worth the tedious slog through 20+ hours of listening to get there.
I've really enjoyed all of the Outlander novels, but some more than others. As Jamie & Claire's circle of family & friends has grown, their goals - and the storylines - have gotten more diffuse, and this has diminished my enjoyment of the last couple of books, mostly because I never really connected with Brianna and her family, and am bored by the segments that focus on them.
This book has more shoots & vines than any of the previous installments, but the pace of the early chapters really worked for me - there is a lot of action and adventure, and things happen very, very fast. Then - uh oh - we're with Brianna in the 1980s, but somehow, it's not boring! One of my favorite things about these books is the mystery of how the time travel actually works, and there's a fair amount of attention paid to the standing stones, the gemstones, how to "steer," and all that. Good stuff.
More importantly, Brianna manages to be less annoying than usual, although she does commit some acts of inexplicable stupidity on a few occasions. She has a few great moments, too, so I suppose it all balances out.
By the time the plot shifts back over to goings-on in 1778, I was a little sorry to be diverted from the Roger & Bree part of the story, which has never happened to me before! This latest installment has LOTS of battle, some very sad deaths, and more time travel (and time travelers!) than ever.
Davina Porter is the perfect narrator for this series, and adds to the enjoyment with her personal awesomeness.
Some people like Anne Flosnik's narration; I guess I'm not one of them. I find her deeply annoying; it sounds almost like she's patronizing me when she reads.
The incomparable Barbara Rosenblat read almost all of Amanda Quick's work for Recorded Books; very few of those are currently available on Audible, which is too bad. Flosnik's narration was unlistenable (for me) and I had to stop listening about 3 hours in. Maybe Audible will be able to buy the rights to the Rosenblat editions of the Amanda Quick books - until then, no more of these!
This is such a thought-provoking book.
Laura Kinsale is known for sending her characters on long, difficult journeys, physically, intellectually, and emotionally. It's one of the things I really like about her books; the characters' struggles have costs and transform people over the course of the story. This story is no exception to that trend. The story begins with a setup familiar to many readers of historical romance: the young and innocent maiden taken captive by a violent, troubled outlaw and forced into a marriage, or at least into bed, where she eventually comes to love him. This is one of the most problematic things about the genre, but Kinsale, as usual, quickly mixes up the formula and creates something completely new.
Instead of presenting us with a milquetoast heroine who succumbs to piratical ravishment, Kinsale gives us Elena, who never misses a lesson and continually finds some agency even when she seems most helpless. One review I read of this mentioned the "disturbingly alpha hero" as a possible problem for some readers - I'm almost done with this book, and I'm wondering if maybe they meant the "disturbingly alpha heroine?" Yes, Allegreto is powerful, wicked, menacing. He does things that are not okay to advance his own interests. But pay attention to Elena and I think you'll find an capable, intelligent heroine who takes charge of every situation through the application of a little wit and daring. I never saw her as anything but an equal to Allegreto, and I didn't think he was over-the-top macho - in fact, he was desperately, beautifully vulnerable.
Much has been said about the sadomasochistic nature of the sex scenes; I didn't find them troubling at all. Everything made sense within the context of the story and the characters' experiences, and the romance between the H/h was so intense at times I actually found some of their conversations more overwhelming than their physical intimacy.
Laura Kinsale really pushes the boundaries of romance, but it pays off in this sensational novel. Nicholas Boulton totally kills the narration, too.
I have read and enjoyed many Kinsale novels, and when Audible started offering them narrated by the perfectly astonishing Nicholas Boulton, I snapped them up one by one...and stopped when I got to "For My Lady's Heart." I tried to read this years ago and didn't get through even the first quarter of the story - at the time, I was put off by the quasi-Middle English and the slowish start.
I was tempted to listen to this only because Nicholas Boulton is magic; he doesn't just perform, he transforms. So, during a dry spell, I finally decided I'd give this a try.
The beginning still requires some patience. Yes, there is some Middle English, and yes, if you are a really persnickety scholar of the medieval period, you might be bothered by it. I decided that while it isn't perfect, it was at least consistent enough to set the tone of the book - fully modern English would have felt too jarring given the antique nature of this story. From what I understand, the author wrote the dialogue entirely in Middle English, and between herself and her editor, they negotiated a version that was modern enough for her readers but archaic enough to suit the story and characters. And the Mr. Boulton narrates the book and makes it all wonderful. Seriously.
If you've enjoyed other Kinsale novels, you will find a lot to like here, too - the hero is utterly lovable, a profoundly good man whose ultimate task is to redeem the haunted and capricious heroine from her mysterious past. As usual with Kinsale, it's not just a good romance novel, it's a good book. Glad I overcame my doubts and listened to this one.
I didn't think it was possible for this book to live up to its hype, but it did. It might have even surpassed it. Does it contain a host of romance novel tropes and dated stereotypes? Of course, but I'm glad I didn't let that stop me from reading/listening.
The Marquess of Dain was unloved by his remote parents and so naturally, he decided to spend the rest of his life in a constant self-destructive orgy of drink, prostitutes, and gambling, among other things. Jessica Trent is a beautiful and virtuous young woman with no fortune, living by her wits and trying to rescue her idiot brother from Dain's malevolent influence. Generally I'm tired of rakes being reformed by the magic of a good woman's love, but thanks to Loretta Chase's intelligent, light, tripping prose, this plot actually ends up making sense. It was delightful. And amazing.
One of the reasons it works is that Jessica is the best romance novel heroine of all time. She actually behaves like a rational human being, who happens to be fabulously self-confident and mature and spectacularly awesome.
Dain, of course, has to overcome his demons, and in the process he spends a lot of time brooding and being kind of oblivious to Jessica's greatness. It totally doesn't matter; I had so much faith in Jessica to bring him around, and he had enough self-awareness to see how his issues were destroying his life and he really wanted to overcome them. Also: unlike some "classic" romance heroes, he does nothing without Jessica's explicit, enthusiastic consent.
I also loved the secondary characters, and actually wished there were more of them - especially Jessica's grandmother. Also, the narrator was amazing!
I've mostly enjoyed this series - there is definitely a formula at work here, but it results in a good, light story with attention to historical detail. However: I flat-out HATE Daniel Sullivan, the main character's love interest, and I'm quickly losing respect for Molly as she seems to be oblivious to his unrelenting sexism. Also, Daniel and Molly keep having this conversation:
Molly: I need you to use your police skills to find out X.
Daniel: I will not, because I disapprove of your pursuit of your career, and also I think you are a hysterical female and no crime has actually occurred, you just think there is one because you are so fantasy-prone.
Molly: But (however many) people have died, and someone tried to kill me!
Daniel: Then your work is too dangerous and I forbid you to pursue it. Also, you're just imagining things.
Molly: I've also been receiving threatening letters/been poisoned/been locked in a trunk and thrown in the river, etc.
Daniel: Your delicate ladybrain is just overwrought (pats hand patronizingly). When we are married, you will not have to think anymore, you will just do what I say. Won't that be easier? Also, stop pursuing this dangerous career, which is full of terrible danger, even though you have imagined all this danger.
Adding to his terribleness, Daniel hates Molly's friends and actively works to keep her away from them, is embarrassed by her whenever he is with any of his friends or colleagues, and frequently mentions how once they are married, she will be too busy doing laundry and raising babies to do anything outside the home, in a "joking-not joking" kind of way. At the beginning of the series, there was some nice romantic tension between these two, but at this point I think the best thing that could happen would be for Daniel to die and for Molly to run off with Sid and Gus to start some sort of lesbian commune for artists and detectives.
I have recently finished this entire series, and I pretty much loved the whole thing. These are deftly written, a lot of fun, and I honestly think they were made to be read by Katherine Kellgren. I don't think I'd have enjoyed them half so much without her narration. Are the stories a little contrived, a little formulaic after a while? Sure. But the characters are charming, the prose effortless, and the mysteries compelling enough to carry the whole thing off.
I thought these might be a little too cute for me, but they're actually reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works from the 1930s, to which they consciously pay homage. Bowen's books come by their high ratings honestly, so go ahead and give it a chance.
This is such a original, compelling, and flat-out freaky story. All the elements of a classic haunting story are here: something terrible in the woods, a tragic and violent historical event (or series of events), a teenager and her innocent young sister left alone in a spooky farmhouse out past the edge of town, unexplained deaths...but McMahon has assembled all these familiar elements into an unsettling, dark story that is fresh and unpredictable.
The story unfolds in two time periods: 1908, in the pages of Sarah Shea Harrison's diary and descriptions of events from the points of view of other characters, and in the present day. This is a twisty, complex story, but the pace builds and the spookiness escalates as the reader/listener and the protagonists gradually piece together the clues and start to figure out what's really going on.
I stupidly started listening to this while I was alone in the house for the weekend, and the spooky atmosphere definitely had me steering clear of the basement and double-checking the closet doors - but at the same time, I couldn't stop listening!
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