I rate books I listen to (rather than read) by reader first, plot second. The reader, Anton Lesser, was outstanding. His voices differentiated the characters very well for me, and in the case of the Mrs. Holland character, her oozing evil actually sent a shiver down my spine. The plot has a few holes in it. Characters who are supposed to be in hiding allow themselves to be photographed for widely-distributed stereopticon pictures. Not smart. But over all, I loved the story, especially the bravery and resourcefulness of the main character.
I almost didn't choose this book because of the narrator. In the other books I've listened to that she's narrated, her voice has been cool and distant, and the subject matter dreary. But I was intrigued by the plot of The Winter Sea, so I took a chance. I'm so glad I did! I have completely changed my mind about Rosalyn Landor's narration. She had a difficult task in this book - multiple characters of both genders from two different time periods, speaking with Canadian, modern Scots, older Scots, Scots Doric, and even French accents - and she got them all dead on as far as I was concerned. She made each of the characters come alive, and it was one of the few times I've actually teared up while listening to a book.
The book itself was very well-written and seems to have been well-researched. I had a quibble with events that occurred in a couple of places, but I won't mention them here - it's possible I missed a detail each time that made them more credible. And take note the sex is definitely PG - there is sex, but it is not described, only implied. But it in no way takes away from the love stories between the characters - you still feel the full impact of their love for each other.
I really, really enjoyed this experience - and will probably listen to it again in the future!
I'm always a bit skeptical when I see two authors have paired up to write one book, but in this case, it worked. Jennifer Crusie's great characters and humor, but with an edge to it that makes it very different. The narrator does a great job, too, wtih all the different voices. Totally improbable plot, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!
To me, this book was big on promise and short on delivery. I love long, involved books as a rule, but this one seemed to drag on forever toward a very unsatisfying ending. What really made it a tough listen was how much I disliked the narrator, who was alternately pompous, obtuse, and condescending. Not a good introduction to Sara Waters.
I feel the burden of being the first to actually review this book on Audible. I liked the story line overall and was really struck by the graceful or funny way the author could write. But two issues were grating to me: the female narrator and the sloppy editng. The female narrator cannot do ANY other voices besides American female, and her wandering in and out of a fake - very fake - British accent was at first disconcerting and finally irritating. Especially because the male narrator was very good, flat American voice notwithstanding. In terms of editing, I can only guess that the author and the original publisher are British because that would acount for the really huge misses in the use - or no use - of American words or phrases in the female character's chapters. Not just the lack of the word "the" in "going to university" or "just got out of hospital," but other, even more basic ones like calling something a "tin" rather than a "can." Maybe it was partly the reason why I ultimately cared very much what happened to Rory but thought Maggie was irritating, unlikeable, and dumb.
I was not impressed with this book at the beginning. The writing seemed simplistic and unoriginal, and the reader's flat, emotionless voice was not something I looked forward to hearing for a long time. However, I was "trapped" in my car, so continued to listen. Once the story moved to 1830's Boston, both writing and reader improved immensely - especially the reader. Susan Deneker's ability with voices rivals Barbara Rosenblat, and from me, there's no higher accolade. I admit I had to fast-forward through some of the more gruesome descriptions, but overall, I really enjoyed the book, especially that it still held some surprises for me at the end.
I have no doubt that if I had read Peters' Vicky Bliss series, rather than listened to it, I would not have enjoyed it half so much. But I was lucky to have listened to all of them, and by this last one, was totally in love with the series. Not so much with the main character, but who couldn't love Schmidt? And that's mostly due to Rosenblat's reading, I think. He came so amazingly and endearingly alive, and was such a perfect foil to Vicky and the Bad Guys. You could probably start with this last one and not miss much, but it really is fun to listen to the whole series, from the introduction (1st book? 2nd book?) of Schmidt to this very last book. This is one I'll keep and listen to again.
I agree this was not a strong literary novel. Both the language used and references made seemed very post 1820's at times, which made the main characters' insistence that servants be respectful of "their betters" all the more jarring, especially for one character who was supposed to be the "kindest person in the world." But my real problem was with the main female character who, while being described in glowing terms as kind, generous, and sensitive, was willing to put the man she loved through hell, treating him in ways that she knew, through his revelations to her, would hurt him the most and the deepest. I found myself yelling at at my CD player more than once, and applauding the one time he responded back to her with true anger. I really wanted to shake her. Having said that, the sex scenes were absolutely wonderful. It was just very hard to believe that she would continue to act the way she did after the extreme closeness they shared during them, her little secret aside.
The reader's style was also a little hard to take at first. Reading "Oh, pardon me!" and "she cried" as two separate sentences was a jolt each time she did it. But as time went on, she did much better.
This is one of the silliest books I've ever listened to. The characters were cartoonish and the plot was so ridiculous that I couldn't suspend my belief long enough to really enjoy it. I kept listening, however, because I couldn't figure out how the author was going to pull all of this craziness together at the end. She did, but in a way that was very unsatisfying to me. I realize it was all supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but did the wink have to be so big?
This is the second book in the series that I've listened to. What I like: the main character, Maxie, seems like a real person; the whole traveling by yourself life in a Winnebago is so fun to "ride along" on vicariously; and Stretch plays a pretty darn good second banana. What I don't like: at times, the narration sounds like a travelogue; at other times, a very boring monologue. The narrator can go into excruciating detail about a local landmark - I'm guessing to establish a sense of place - and what's tougher for me to take, can also go into excruciating detail about her inner thoughts on a barely relevant but not especially interesting topic just when the external action starts to pick up. And Maxie, because in some ways she is so slow and deliberate, can sometimes worry back and forth over a conclusion that seems so obvious. I find myself telling my CD player, "Duh - you think?" All in all, it's entertaining enough, but if you like your action to move along at a brisk pace, this author's style may drive you crazy.
This book was for me a happy mistake. I realized in the first few minutes of listening that I had not paid a lot of attention to the summary description, novels about vampires not being my usual choice. But its quirkiness kept me listening, and by the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. I am now listening to its sequel while simultaneously going back to read the first 4 books of the series, so I've been immersed in Sookie Stackhouse's life, and loved every minute of it. Like Diana Gabaldon, Harris's biggest strength is being able to create a real, down-to-earth, flawed main character who is a perfect complement to the outrageous story line, creating a believable world out of unbelievable pieces. It took a while for me to get used to the voice Johanna Parker gives to Sookie, but once I did, that became Sookie's voice throughout the books I read as well as listened to. Parker's success with the other characters' voices is a bit uneven, but considering how many voices she has to do within a book, she does an outstanding job overall. I'm about to finish listening to the sequel to this book, Definitely Dead, and I am dragging my feet a bit because when it's finished, no more Sookie. I can't recommend these books enough.
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