I do not recommend this as an audiobook. It should be read, not listened to for three reasons. The first problem is knowing if something is a vision or is happening. For example Aren is talking to a man, has a vision, and then continues talking to him. At first I thought the entire thing was conversation. Then I realized, no she was having a vision in the middle of the conversation. For most of her visions, I was confused. In the physical book the visions are in italic, but the italic is not communicated by the narrator.
The second problem is hard-to-follow-point-of-view-changes. I had trouble figuring out who was talking and some of the actions. Most of the book is first person narrated by Aren, but parts are third person. This is a fine style and it works well with another audiobook I’m listening to. But somehow in this book the transitions are not clear. For example Aren is narrating: I walk here, I do this. He is lonely. He sees them walking. (It switched to third person Hob’s point of view without telling me.) Maybe the physical book has paragraph separations or something. But several times I was confused about point of view.
My third problem was the narrator. She used a generic American accent for first person narration which was excellent. Then she used a fake-pretend-British-like accent for all dialogue which was bad. It was such a disconnect to be in Aren’s thoughts with the American accent but as soon as Aren speaks it’s the fake British accent. Second, I really hated this accent. I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t genuine. I like British accents, but this was disturbing. Here are examples. I’ve beane thayah befowah (I’ve been there before). He combed down (He calmed down). I knaow it’s hahpenning (I know it’s happening). It hut (It hurt). But I must repeat the narrator was excellent when speaking generic American. She has a wonderful voice, with good tone, pacing, and speed.
ABOUT THE STORY:
I liked the idea of Aren and Hob together, but that relationship was not developed. I didn’t feel any emotional connection between them. He seemed like a helpful and caring teacher. I would have liked seeing his loneliness, his pain, his desires, and how he felt when doing things with Aren. Throughout the book there is a lot of the narrator’s feelings, for example Aren saying I feel so tired, or I haven’t eaten since yesterday. But there are no feelings of anyone else, so I wasn’t drawn in to anyone else.
The author’s strength may be scene description. But her weakness is not enough action moving the plot or about the plot. There were multiple story lines, and they were not well developed. There was not enough information and interaction with the numerous raider groups. Some scenes felt contrived when Aren thought characters were dead but later learned they were not. When Hob came into the story it was a little better. But on balance it was boring, and I wanted it to be over.
The biggest problem is too much telling and not enough showing. The result is that it reads like a newspaper article. Newspaper articles summarize events. They can be satisfying and enjoyable, and maybe that’s why so many people like this. But it could be so much better. There was such potential. The author created wonderful creatures. And I liked the world and the plot set up, but the author just did not give me plot development and “showing.” An example of her “telling” is in the following excerpt.
“He hadn’t found any ghasts here, but I met most of the rest of the very weak and horrid. Poltergeists he said were both powerless and mindless, not worth the effort of approaching them. The weaker benevolent spirits like driads and nyads he’d shown me as well. The dryad had been soft spoken and solid seeming. He reminded me of the ancient oak he called home. The nyad had been shy, leaving as quickly as she’d responded. Caefawn hadn’t seen her, though he’d been sitting beside me the whole time. Some of the spirits we’d looked for like the willow wisps we couldn’t find. I could tell it made Caefawn sad, though he didn’t say anything. One or two of the creatures had attacked me. Sometimes their attacks were physical, like the noglan throwing sticks. More often they were mental. As I learned to defend myself the Hob would find a new stronger more contentious thing to call. Caefawn said that most of the stronger spirits like the earth guardian would know when I was about and come on their own if they chose. I could summon the lesser spirits whether they willed it or not. Some of them I could dominate if I chose, but it made me increasingly uncomfortable to do so. It felt wrong, even evil to do more than defend myself. Gram always said that if something felt wrong, it probably was. “So what’s it tonight?” I asked cheerfully. I was starting to feel brave in the night. Facing off with noglans and ghosts had made me less afraid of the darkness, silly me. Still it was easier than facing the villagers.”
Following are my questions about the above “telling.” We don’t see her meeting, saying hello, interacting with, or fighting sticks with any of these creatures. What did the dryad say to her that was soft spoken? Why did she see the nyad and Caefawn not? Where and how did they look for the willow wisps? She says one or two attacked her. How many was it? When a creature did a mental attack, what was it like? How did she feel and respond? She said she learned to defend herself. What exactly did she do to defend herself? How did she summon the lesser creatures? Build a fire? Chant? What did she do to dominate? Sit on them? Stare at them without blinking? She has interesting descriptions but she doesn’t show “actions.”
Genre: young adult fantasy.
The story plods along. It was hard to stay interested. The characters were the weakest part. They were not interesting. No chemistry. No intrique. A plot was developed, and the bad guys got it in the end. But I didn’t care. I just wanted the book to end. The bad guy killed and hurt so many people. Those were the depressing thoughts left with me at the end. I would have liked some happier feelings.
The romantic relationship between Dawson and Amelia was not well developed. I didn’t feel any chemistry. There were two intense kissing scenes and three sex scenes. The sex scenes were vaguely described and short.
Stephen Lang should not read romance novels. He does not read with sensuality or sexuality. Tom Stechshulte was fabulous when he read a guy’s lines in another book, I was melting. If Tom were reading this book he would have put very different feelings in both the hero and heroine voices. But Lang was stilted and wooden. The hero should have feelings of desire and treasuring her. Lang’s voice had none of that. It was not sexy. Also, I did not like any of his voices for women. Throughout the book the heroine’s dialogue sounded wimpy, weak and wan. A different feeling by the narrator could have made her more interesting. Instead she was blah. Harriet’s voice was weird and cartoonish. The narrator grew up in Queens, NY. He still has some of that accent for example, he says ar rent (for aren’t) were rent (for weren’t) and sometimes: har or huh (for her).
Sandra Brown is hit or miss with me. My favorite books of hers are Mean Streak, Envy, and Mirror Image.
Genre: mystery suspense with romance.
It was hard each time I had to make myself stop.
If you’re looking for a good romantic suspense, this is one.
She’s back! For awhile, the author was getting away from romantic suspense. Some of her stuff was good until the endings – too brief – not happy – not romantic. This one is good!
I think the author has two types of fans. Romance lovers should like this. Her mystery fans may not. Mystery fans complain about suspending disbelief, unrealistic actions, and stereotyped characters. That didn’t bother me. The best thing about this is the RELATIONSHIP mystery, intrigue, intensity, and interaction.
Telling why I liked the book will give away something important. So I put it in my review of this book on Goodreads and Amazon, coded as a Spoiler.
There were some things a bit contrived, but I was willing to accept them. One had to do with the author not showing motivation for a character’s actions. Another was the heroine doing something stupid, going off alone with an uncharged phone and no weapon. But the rest was so engaging that I felt five stars anyway.
There were five sex scenes. Two of them maybe a page long, the others shorter.
Jonathan Davis was very good. He’s not a favorite but good enough. I was pleased with his voices for women.
Genre: romantic suspense.
I love stories about unusual relationships, and this is one of the best.
But it needs a pdf file for pictures. Pictures are in the physical book, but the audiobook buyers lose out. There are some pictures on the website lawrenceanthony dot co dot za
As to the story, this is truth stranger than fiction. It’s wonderful to watch a man talk to angry wild elephants. Emotions are communicated both ways. It shows there are other senses than those we normally think about or accept.
The story is what it’s like to run a game preserve in southern Africa. There are problems with employees, poachers, and working with local tribal leaders. And of course problems with the animals. The animals are Lawrence’s family -- his children. There is always some new thing he needs to attend to. But the story is mostly about Lawrence and the elephants. It’s a true story. And it’s fabulous.
Too many true stories are depressing with bad things happening to animals. But this is not. The main animal and human characters do not die. There are some animal deaths, but the ending feels good.
The audiobook narrator Simon Vance did an excellent job.
Bad recording equipment picked up narrator’s breaths. Needs a pdf file for pictures.
I learned a lot but it was long. At times it dragged. A different author could have been more selective. I feel like Goodwin’s goal was to provide as much information as possible, so a historian would be pleased to find a diary entry that he had not read before. I stayed with it because it was good for me. I’m glad I read it, but it was not as compelling or engaging as I hoped.
At times the subject matter was depressing. So many deaths in that war. I admired the morality of northerners willing to support the war against slavery. I was surprised and admired how Lincoln got enemies and those with conflicts to work together. He always took blame so others would not look bad.
I was surprised at how cowardly some northern generals were. Lincoln could not find good generals. The ones he had were afraid to attack and afraid to chase. Most of the fighting was when the South attacked. In one case McClellan was ordered to move his troops to help another general. McClellan wouldn’t do it. At the same time Grant was out west fiercely fighting and winning. Lincoln was so happy to finally have a general who would fight, so he put Grant in charge of the whole thing. I was impressed with Lee’s brilliant military leadership in the south.
Also memorable was Lincoln’s desire to forgive. One of his cabinet members Chase campaigned against Lincoln for reelection and said negative things about Lincoln. After Chase lost, Lincoln gave another assignment to Chase because Chase was the best man for the country. Lincoln wanted to help the South recover after the war. He did not want to punish the South. Booth was so stupid to kill Lincoln. He was angry at freeing the slaves. But he killed the one man who would have forgiven and helped the South the most.
The awe of the Gettysburg Address. Reading it now in the middle of this book is so different from when I read it in high school. I have more understanding of what was going on, and it made the Address more powerful.
There needs to be a PDF file for audiobook buyers for pictures and illustrations that were in the physical book.
Suzanne Toren is a good reader for this book. But the recording equipment picked up her BREATHS. Her breathing was sooo distracting and sooo annoying. Recording people: Please solve this problem! I don’t hear other narrators breathing.
But it’s still fun.
I will always read the new Jack Reacher book. I like being in this world. He had about three or four beat em up scenes. Those were fun. But the story was not very good. There was a lot of going-nowhere-talk. My mind wandered at times. The author used the following phrase a lot. I smile when I hear it because it’s typical Reacher. “I said nothing.” “He said nothing.”
Most of the Reacher books have been 3rd person narratives, so I was not happy with this done in 1st person.
This is book 19 in the Jack Reacher series. I gave 4 or more stars to the first seven books except for Running Blind.
The narrator Dick Hill was very good.
Genre: mystery suspense.
but I was not taken. It dragged.
Maybe it was just a hard-to-work-with-plot and uninteresting characters. Everyone keeps secrets from Lucas - good guys and bad guys. Even Nadia his partner does not tell him things. It was a slow process of puzzle solving. The ending was lackluster. It was not wrapped up well, but I didn’t care much. I was glad it was over.
A group of Russian families has been in the U.S. for decades. They consider themselves spies for Russia even though they rarely have contact with Russia and don’t do much. They kill a Russian. Nadia arrives from Russia to investigate and works with Lucas.
I don’t like the way the author writes women. He makes them weak, incompetent, or not smart in order to make Lucas look good. I don’t require strong smart heroines in everything I read. It’s ok to have weak characters in either sex. But make the main female character quirky, unusual, or something. So far in the three books I’ve read, I come out with an empty feeling about women. They are cardboard.
Here’s an example. Nadia and a guy are in a room. Killer enters and shoots the guy then runs out. Lucas is nearby, hears gunshots, and sees the killer running. Lucas goes to Nadia and sees the guy shot. Lucas calls 911 giving information, tells Nadia to stay with the guy, and then runs off to chase the killer. Lucas is a good runner and gets close to the killer. Why didn’t Nadia do anything? She could have called 911. But no, Lucas has to delay his chase to make the phone call while Nadia stands there and watches. Why couldn’t Nadia chase the killer? Nadia is a Russian agent, not a shrinking violet fragile female. She’s cardboard.
I was eager to read about Letty, a 12-year-old Lucas meets in book #14 (the previous book). She shoots a rifle and traps muskrats. I hoped she would have a bigger role in this book, but she had no role. The only thing said was Lucas was her guardian.
I was impatient with Nadia’s dialogue. She asked too many word meanings which dragged the dialogue. Examples: “The others were tarnished and even had some, I don’t know the English, green coloring on the brass.” “How do you say...” “What’s this ‘upside’?”
Richard Ferrone was good for general narration and men, but not women. He made them sound weird.
Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
Letty could have been better. Last half was good entertainment.
I read book #1 in the series and did not like the womanizing element of Lucas. In this book #14 he’s married, so that should be less. But his female characters come across as cardboard. Part of it is women desiring men, but I don’t see men having intense desire for women. The men are magnets and don’t do anything to earn the attraction. It’s male wishful thinking. It’s a subtle undercurrent. I accept the author’s choice to not have smart, strong, competent women in his character mix. But at least give me something sassy, quirky, or unusual about some women.
The opening murder scene had me glued to the page. Then it was slow creating the back story about everyone. But the last half was top notch. Very engaging. But, when it was over I was confused. I did not know who did what or how in the kidnappings. Who told Sorrell about Deon and Jane? What happened to Joe Kelly?
I was disappointed with Letty but only because of my expectations. She is 11. Lucas meets her in this book and she supposedly continues as a character in future books. But I read the next book (#15) and she had no role in that. Letty traps muskrats for money and carries a rifle. I was hoping she’d have an unusual attitude or ability. But her dialogue and behavior were like a regular person - kind of flat.
I was happy that justice was done and the bad guys “got it” in the end.
I really liked the following. Someone was wondering who was more likely to commit a crime. “Deon was this ocean of want. He wanted money and he wanted dope and he wanted cars and he wanted clothes and he wanted to go to Vegas and LA and he wanted season tickets for basketball. Lauren didn’t seem to want anything. He didn’t seem to care about anything or even do anything other than sleep with Katina.”
Richard Ferrone was good in a lot of ways, but I did not like some of his female voices – especially Letty. I also did not like some of his interpretations. For example “What does that mean? She growled.” He read this as a whine not a growl.
Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
My mind wandered.
Part of the problem was the audiobook narrator Ralph Cosham. He read in a monotone voice.
The first half dragged, but things got interesting in the last third. Ruth likes to collect suffering, to create suffering, and to be around suffering. That intrigued me. I wanted more with her. The author wrote “people who have been hurt a lot either pass it on and become abusers or develop great kindness.” I liked that idea. I wish the author did more with that.
Agent Nichol was a new assistant to Gamache. She was incompetent and lied. Because of her incompetence the wrong will was read and the wrong people took possession of the deceased’s house. They messed with evidence. I was angry at Nichol. I wanted more pain and punishment to her than what she got. But I was equally disturbed with police procedure. An outside investigator is called in to investigate a suspicious death. He allows a suspect to take possession of the deceased’s home? And he does not search the home for evidence because the suspect doesn’t want him to? And he accepts that? That is INSPECTOR STUPIDITY. I don’t want to read that.
I wanted to see the killer’s words and reactions after he was caught. But that was not shown, which means I did not get to feel good about justice for the bad guy. I needed to know more about him – more character development.
Below average for the audiobook narrator’s accent.
The narrator used an English accent that bothered me. The phrase “look what I got” sounded like “loo wha I gah.” A little of that would be ok, but not the whole book. I enjoy books using the elegant upper class British accent, but not what was used here. On the other hand, the narrator was good with emotional interpretations and general narration.
The best part of the story was the character development. I enjoyed the interactions among the person in charge, the nurses, and the patients.
The story is told in 1st person by Kitty. I would have preferred 3rd person. Kitty pretends to be a nurse to get the job. I did not like her enough. I was not intrigued with her enough. When she pondered something, I didn’t care about her feelings and perceptions. For example “I spent a long moment breathing in the clean night air and watching the few trees winking in the moonlight. How long had this day been, a year? two?” That’s a nice sentence, but it’s almost like I didn’t want to hear her talk.
As to the story and events, the first 2/3 was kind of slow. The last 1/3 was better. The events and actions were not different or special enough. At the end I felt the author threw in some sex and romance that felt out of place. There was not enough prior relationship development.
There were two ghosts. One was bad. The resolution of the bad ghost was unfinished. I saw no logic for what happened with the other ghost. I was unsatisfied.
Genre: paranormal mystery with suspense.
Audiobook narrator’s breaths annoyed me.
I’m in the minority here. A lot of my friends liked this. One friend said she loved this “in print” but “kept drifting off in audio.” So maybe that’s part of my problem.
I read 30% and stopped. It’s characters thinking, talking about things, and being intense. Lots of threats, warnings, and orders to others. There is almost no action. There is no doing of anything. Ian deserted the Navy SEALS and is now developing a drug business in Aruba with his father a cartel guy. Ian wants to find the terrorist Sorrell. But so far, there is no action.
When Ian sees Kira he says “I want you to leave Aruba.” She doesn’t. The next time he sees her he says the same thing. Another time he says “You’re not supposed to be here.” That was their main conversation.
THE GOOD PARTS:
Hot steamy sex scenes. It might be worth reading just for that. They are explicit and graphic plus pain. Ian pulls her hair, spanks her, ties her hands. There is self pleasuring and back door action. The focus is “male domination.”
Mackenzie Heart had very good interpretation and sound, but she needs a different microphone or sound equipment. Her breaths were too loud. They were distracting.
Genre: erotic romantic suspense.
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