Glen Gardner, NJ, United States | Member Since 2014
I am enjoying this series. This is book 2 and continues with the characters from Murder of a Small Town Honey, now caught up in the mystery of the murder of Skye's grandmother. This is a small town cozy mystery series so if you don't like some small town drama, descriptions of homemade meals and the occasional visit to a pork chop supper, pick a different series. We spend a lot of time with Skye's relatives in this installment and now we can completely see why she moved away in the first place. She endures a lot of family stress and work stress in this one. I used to think school psychologist sounded like a good job, but this installment definitely talked me out of that as Skye's job provides a lot of unpleasant drama for her. Additionally her love life does not come to satisfying conclusion in this one, but there is hope for improvement going forward. The mystery kept me interested throughout despite some occasional over the top perhaps not entirely believable twists. However, I don't think readers of books like this are as concerned about such things if they can accept that some random school psychologist in a small town will keep getting caught up in murder investigations in the first place. I have downloaded the next in the series. I'm not sure I love Skye exactly, but I do like the narration and the books keep me interested.
I have been enjoying this series because I enjoy the characters particularly Mattie and Hurley, and Mattie makes me chuckle. In the first two books, the mysteries were perhaps not that well developed. In this book we move on to a much more complicated mystery which plays a bigger role in the book. I considered that a plus and I even listened up to 5 hours in one day to have it resolved. Also, I did not solve this one. That said though, I found the lack of romantic progress disappointing. In fact the developing romance has gone backwards instead of forward in this book. But I will definitely go on to the next one to see if it gets back on track! It's the same narrator as previous books and I really like her as Mattie but she does sometimes mispronounce words.
I am really enjoying this series. Unlike some other listeners I have no problem with the narrator. I find her voice fits the characters, even if she does occasionally use a pronunciation that seems off to me. Unlike the first book, I did not guess the ending in this one. I think this is going to be one of those series though that I enjoy the characters so much that I feel no need to over analyze the mystery. Mattie makes me chuckle. If you liked book one you will like this one. All the things you could dislike about it (like Mattie's klutziness, or the crude sexual innuendo) were part of book one as well. They did not bother me. There was one character who got a little tiresome in this one for me, an elderly man with dawning dementia and a catheter problem, but I can over look that since I enjoy Mattie and Hurley and Izzy and the pets enough.
I actually had this audiobook for ages before I listened to it. I was one of the many people totally fascinated by Jaycee's story in the news. I just wasn't sure I could actually handle listening to the abuse that she had suffered. My main area of interest was in what happened when she returned to her family though and this seemed to be the only source for that info. I finally listened to it and I have to say that it wasn't as hard to hear as I thought. I hate rape scenes, even in fiction, and dreaded that in this book. Jaycee manages to communicate the facts of her abuse without dwelling on the suffering and she explains the pattern of abuse in detail basically just once. The reader understands what happened without having to keep reliving it. I thought it was very well done. Some reviewers are critical of Jaycee's narration. I rather liked it. She sounds very young which works well when discussing her early days. There is also a flat, reading quality to what she is saying that makes it less emotionally charged and easier to listen too. I really think this was preferable to some narrator dramatizing the material. What happened was drama enough. As with anything that makes headlines, you tend to think that you already know a lot of the story. I confess to being surprised at how Jaycee came to tell the officers who she was. I had the impression from the news that once she was alone with officers she seized the day to reclaim her identity. Actually, they really had to pull it out of her. She does go into a lot of detail on her therapy after the reunion wit her mom. I would have really liked to hear what her mom was thinking at certain points but I guess that is a different book. I found the book a quick and compelling read that is hard to assign a starred value to.
I am not sure why I see complaints about the narrator. I liked her quite a bit. I felt like she was Mattie and that Mattie was a very likable character. For a good chunk of the mystery I did not know who did it though I did guess before the end. I also found myself laughing at times at Mattie's antics. Basically I found this to be a fun, light mystery. I did think the sexual references were a bit much. They weren't offensive or anything just Mattie spends a lot more time thinking about the hunky detectives private parts than you might think the state of her life calls for. And of course when she is in the middle of doing her laundry and has to run out without a bra on, it doesn't take a genius to know what's going to happen. Still, it was a light fun mystery, and there's even a cat (always a plus to me). I will definitely get the next in the series.
I normally wouldn't stop reading a book and then review it but I am making an exception here. I want to review it so other people know what I know but I didn't want to spend any more of my life listening to it when there are so many other books. I should listen to samples before buying books too so at least I would have known about the really strong theatrical English accent the narrator uses. I am not a big fan of narrators with accents but sometimes they are OK. This one I found made it hard to understand what was being said. Between the accent and the slang I got lost a lot, and add on to that the content which involves a lot of stream of consciousness and cutesy word play, I have never listened to a book so poorly suited to be an audiobook. If you like these sorts of very British books with clever wording and stories of lives of quiet desperation, maybe this is your book. BUT I suggest you read it rather than listen to it. I am not sure why I picked this out in the first place - something in the description caught my interest but I think I will avoid books like this in the future. The last straw for me was a scene where a man was walking through a park (that much I got) and I thought he was talking to his mother, then he seemed to be talking to his dead father but I wasn't really sure, and I could never tell which comments were said aloud and which just thought. If you can't tell whether someone is talking to themselves, or a live person, or a dead person, I think it is time to move on to a different book. So I will.
Basically I like all the Scumble River mysteries. I very much enjoyed finally seeing some progress in Skye's love life too. The mystery was ok but I confess to enjoying the characters as the primary attraction. So that may be why it bothered me that although most of the voices have not changed, May and Bunny sounded totally different. Was so weird after getting used to everyone to hear Skye sound like she always did than her mother suddenly sound completely unlike herself. I think the previous voices were much better. I hope this resolves by the next book. The story line being set in a spa gives lots of opportunities for various comments to be made about Skye's weight, appearance etc. I confess to be a bit bored having to dwell on her chubbiness all the time. I also remember Skye commenting at some point (might not have been this book) about eating healthy despite no longer dieting. Skye does a lot of eating (even when it is forbidden at the spa) and she is always chowing down McDonald's, or piles of meat potatoes and gravy, or bags of candy and chips. I think she's a little deluded. But in the beginning of the book especially I was getting tired of people being so rude to her. Some unresolved threads from previous books do get wrapped up in the one, which is nice. As usual I plan to go on to the next in the series.
I REALLY enjoyed this book. I want to say first off though that anyone with no binge drinking experience just won't get it so they might as well skip it. The perfect audience is what I was, someone who has recently had a bad hangover that led them to wonder - am I just that person who should never drink? And, is that even possible? We follow our formerly binge drinking health reporter through totally relatable, and often funny, sometimes sad, situations. I should mention that I normally hate when narrators have strong accents. I have a horrible time understanding them and find it unnecessary. In this case, while heavily accented the reader is clear and the accent and local slang are more atmospheric than annoying. The book at times can get a little statistics heavy, and I didn't necessarily agree with everything (for example, I never saw an issue with alcohol ads during sporting events) but overall I found the book very interesting. One thing that stuck with me was the comment that not drinking at all was what people did when they found moderate drinking to be too hard. There is also the drama of what our heroine will do when her time is up. Kept me interested all the way through.
This book is Hota telling of her interviews with 6 people. I found the stories interesting. However, I did not really get how the stories really belong together. Even the subtitle "Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives" isn't entirely accurate. I really think she just thought these were six good stories so wanted to make a book but any real connection for all six is a stretch. The final story is about a woman who went from choosing to live a subsistence lifestyle to owning a multimillion dollar company. Is the adversity being poor when choosing to live that lifestyle? At any rate, each story on it's own was interesting but a few things did bug me. Our first story deals with a woman who after being in an abusive relationship and losing her kids, leaves the guy, loses hundreds of pounds and regains custody. She later becomes a life coach. This is inspiring except that one question kept popping into my mind while listening and Hota never asked it. The woman after gaining her kids back, moves in with another guy shortly after that, then another guy after that. It seemed to me like she always had to have a man and never got comfortable just being herself. It seemed so crazy after what she put her kids through to move them in with another guy right away. But Hota never asks her about that. After that story was a woman who survived cancer and went on to help cancer patients by getting the medical community to deal with issues of fertility loss differently. Those two made me think our book was about people who suffered something them went on to do something for others. But the next two stories were a little off from that. I was fascinated by the woman who recovered from epilepsy and became an ultra marathoner. (I had never heard of ultramarathons.) I am just not sure how that fits the theme. Similarly there is man who stops doing drugs after his sister is murdered and helps to influence the prosecution of her killer. There is also the man who helped a burn victim on 9/11 only to learn later his sister and niece had died that day. That is certainly a powerful story but I kept waiting to see what he was going to do and that was apparently just be a regular happy guy. So although the stories were interesting, I don't think Hota or her book added anything to them.
I enjoy all the Scumble River Mysteries because I have become attached to the characters. The narrator is always great as well. There are a few things that prevent this one from being a favorite. I was very much looking forward to some exciting changes in Skye's love life in this book. I had gotten tired of her previous relationship and was very much looking forward to a new relationship in this book. But it never really makes progress. Skye spends a lot of time being obsessed about "taking it slow" and when she does get about to get close to her new man, something prevents it every time. So that was a letdown. The mystery was okay except that it was the only time that comes to mind where I knew who the guilty party was way before Skye did. She seemed a little clueless this time around.
I am one of those people who is fascinated by hoarding and I have watched a ton of shows on TV about it, but this book was so much better than those shows. Getting to know the characters better and seeing them change over time really added dimension that is missing on those TV shows. It was particularly interesting to watch roles within the family change over time as Miller transitions from the child to an almost parental role in dealing with her parents. It is amazing how the background of challenges created such a strong person. I liked too that this was a book about a challenging childhood without being one of the many abuse memoirs. I liked Miller's narration too once I got over wishing she would speak just a little louder.
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