First off, some reviewers have noted the annoying teenager and the voices used. I'll have to concur here. The book could have existed without the daughter, and it's possible it could have been better without her. The voice used for her (and most other characters) was definitely annoying.
That said, it doesn't get in the way of the tale which grips you almost from the beginning. A few chapters in, and it got easy to ignore the nasal and irritating tones the narrator used for various characters. I deducted a star for this.
On to the story: A widow and her daughter move to an art boarding school in upstate NY to restart their lives. The school and town have a rich history which is slowly revealed through characters, stories and a long-lost diary.
The "mystery" was great in my opinion and kept you guessing. The story had an eerie supernatural feel to it that only added to the charm for me.
They say a story is about the journey and not the destination. Often, that's true, and I can live with it. I didn't have to this time around. Not only was the journey thoroughly enjoyable, but the destination was as well.
The story wraps in such a way to not only bring closure to the adventure, but to leave you replaying major plot points in your head to see how it all "fit". It DOES "fit" too, bringing everything full circle and leaving you wholly content.
Absolutely recommend it.
If you've listened to the first 2 books in this series, then you won't be too surprised by this one.
As usual, the story plods along, with remarkable scenes littered amongst the pretty mundane. Oddly though, it's enjoyable. You never feel like you're rushing anywhere; you're just along for the ride, taking in Eff's daily life as we meander to the end game. It's a bit similar to some of the earlier Harry Potter books in that way.
The downside of this type of story telling (aside from it being slow, which can be a pain if you're not enjoying taking it all in), is that there is much discussed and revealed during the story (indeed, the entire series) that never gets resolved.
In most stories, most of what you hear about is fairly important. In these types of stories though, you hear about so much that it can be hard to figure out just what's important and what is just a tidbit. Sadly, many of those tidbits that seem to be going somewhere never do, and you're left to fill in the blanks in your mind. A shame for such a wonderfully-crafted universe.
Overall however, I enjoyed it. For the shippers, Eff finally "settles down" in this book, and thankfully those parts of the story aren't mushy or annoying. In fact, it doesn't interfere with the story at all; it adds to it.
I'd hoped this wasn't the end, but given that there's an epilogue, I guess it is. Great series.
This book is written by two people. The intro makes that clear, and then listening to the first half makes that somewhat clear as well.
The first half of the book seems intent on establishing Frieda as a (n uninteresting) character. We are treated to several interactions and threads that have zero bearing on the main plot. They aren't even small side things either, they take up large parts of the tale, are often annoying (the niece) and go absolutely no where later on.
What makes the above worse, is that in the first half of the book, the scenes are often abruptly ended with little resolution and we move on to something completely unrelated. It's not only jarring, but also leads you to wonder just what is actually important in what you hear. That would be great if things were cleverly written to incorporate bits and pieces of all the little situations you're forced to endure, but, as mentioned, they have pretty much zero bearing on the main story.
The narrator is pretty good, though she does all male voices in an annoying nasal tone which can be distracting at first.
As for the actual plot of the story: I doubt you'll be surprised by the revelations, but it's an interesting ride in any case -- especially once the book starts to maintain focus in the second half.
If this book were edited down to, perhaps not remove, but streamline some of the random bits from Frieda's life, then I'd give it more stars. As it stands, it's sadly the first book I've ever played at greater than 1x speed.
Not interested in enduring the rest of the series.
A few of the tales in this book were in the last collection, and some others appeared elsewhere. That threw me off at first since I started skipping through stories and ended up missing half of one I hadn't heard.
That said, they're all top-notch as usual. I especially enjoyed changeling, which added some more mysteries to the overall Joe Ledger universe.
I also enjoyed the last story in the collection, which starts off years ago and actually follows Mr Church before the DMS was formed before catching up to the present with Joe. It was good to hear a bit more of St. Germaine
This entry in the series is told from the perspective of Allisen's mother. It's a sort of "look back" tale that covers what went on during previous novels, but is done very well.
The mystery this time around was fairly interesting and opened up a bit more of the ghost world for followers of the series.
Unlike the other alternate-perspective entry in this series (from Paul's POV), this entry was read by the usual narrator and so characters actually kept their usual voices. That was a relief as I didn't enjoy the differences in the book read by a male.
Overall, a short and enjoyable listen.
As others have pointed out: this book is vulgar. We should get that out the way first. Sex, death, gore. All of it in vulgar detail. If you can't stand that, then I wouldn't buy this book.
That said, I enjoyed it. There were times I felt the vulgarities were unneeded and just in place to make things racier, but I accepted that that was the author's tone with this book, and went with it.
As for the story, I am unsure what genre this falls under. You've got a tiny bit of mystery (two, in a way), and you've got the usual "skin flick and gore" type of stuff. What's surprising though, is you get a bit of science fiction as well.
It's hard for me to delve deeper than that without spoiling things, and I suppose that's why the book's summary was equally vague. I can say this: It's a novel about a shady motel, told from many perspectives. The writing is very descriptive (even if vulgar) and each character (even short-lived ones) are well fleshed out. It'll make you cringe, laugh and shake your head, but you'll love every moment of the wild ride.
This book was a chore to get through. Luckily for me, I had just come off a streak of a few good books, and had another lined up to look forward to.
Let's start with the narrator. Her voice is fine for a school teacher reading to her kids, but a professional she is not. Aside from the annoying tone of her voice, she often reads sentences as if it were her first time coming across it. This leads to her getting tone and inflection all wrong. In fact, SEVERAL times through the story you'll hear her "end" a sentence with tone, only to add more words:
"He then turned around and dropped his plate. On the ground."
That should be one sentence, but she reads it as if it ended at plate, and on the ground is another sentence (this is just an example, and not a line from the story). Coupled with her voice, the narrator got to be very distracting.
On to the story. It's an odd one as it tries hard to be different, yet ends up being more cliched for it. We have our usual suspects, only slightly different, however they end up more like caricatures:
-- Big strong, hero, who has no faults, and then he does.
-- Hero's love interest, who doesn't just want to be a damsel in distress, she now wants to be empowered.
-- Sheriff, who wants to handle things because this is his town, but then can't and wishes he hadn't.
I could go on, but it might ruin some of the "surprise". Yes, there are surprises, but they aren't really a surprise. You can see where the story is going a mile away and the plodding exposition is often tedious.
The author does do a good job of mixing up the plot though. We should try this. No this! Now this! Will this work? In the end, I don't think I even cared. I just wanted it over.
I will give the author this: he created some creepy scenes. If you can get past the annoying narrator and actually picture the situations as described, you may be slightly disturbed. In fact, coupled with the plot and characters, this book would have made a better movie. That way, we could focus more on the scares and visual creepiness.
I got this book because the synopsis read similar to the "Haunted Guesthouse" novels by EJ Copperman. I'll lay out those similarities first:
-- Both have women who are handy (taught by their dads) and go to renovate an old Victorian.
-- Both women realize they can see and communicate with ghosts while in the home.
-- Both are mystery novels in which the ghosts they find need help solving their murders.
-- Both have narrators with irksome tendencies.
That said, it was an enjoyable listen, though it never quite seemed to take off, and sort of tumbled to its resolution. We meet up with Mel Turner as she heads over to see the aftermath of a DIY demolition party. She arrives, someone dies, and the tale begins.
I won't spoil things, but this book is partly set up to have Mel discover how she gained her abilities. Frustratingly though, the reader is likely to figure it out before her because she seems very uninterested and often changes the subject quickly when someone is spilling the beans on her "condition" and things that relate to it. As more and more pieces fall into place, I found myself not caring since I'd figured it out already. Move onto the mystery!
As for the actual mystery, it's your typical whodunnit with Red Herrings all over the place, which all mostly get resolved in one very odd scene which prompts another very odd scene. Mystery solved, but didn't feel all that fulfilling. I didn't feel like I was part of the "learning" process -- well, scratch that, you are, but the things you "learn" don't really help solve the mystery. In the end, Mel gets "determined", figures it out on her own, and the book ends. Sort of a let down.
As for the narrator, she's sort of the opposite of EJ Copperman's reader (Amanda Ronconi) in that instead of being whiny and annoying, she sounds like she's trying to be seductive and sultry. Listening in the car became hard as her sentences all seemed to be read in one breath. She'd start out loud and end the sentence in a breathy whisper. The voices of all the male characters sounded like guys on their deathbeds. I never quite got used to it.
In the end, the tale was OK, not great. What has lead me to decide to skip the next entries in the series (at least for now), however, is the narration alone. Middling interest in the tale, plus an annoying narrator means no credit spent for me.
If this book sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out EJ Copperman's "A Haunted Guesthouse" series. At least that has humor.
The second novel in this series is definitely a worthy followup. It sort of continues the episodic structure of the first book, but all of the events follow each other in a much closer fashion. This is likely due to #1 it taking place on a roadtrip/journey to a destination and #2 because we got the backstory in the first book, so were free to move forward.
The narrator also seems to have gotten into his stride and his reading is much better this time around (for me anyway).
As for the story, we continue following Ross as he heads across the country to go after his long lost father. We make some stops on the way, all of which contribute to Mike's growth as a character. Mike makes some interesting allies and his powers (and knowledge) grows.
The final battle and resolution is far from lackluster, and though it leaves the door wide open for a sequel, there is no cliffhanger and this book stands firmly on its own.
That said, this is not a book you should read without first taking in the first in the series. The author does some explaining of past events, but not enough for someone jumping in to fully appreciate things. Read the first book!
Some folks have compared this book and its world to Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series. I can see the comparison given the theme and the humor, but I think this tale can stand on its own
It is similar though, in that our protagonist has a connection to the supernatural world and becomes quite notorious within it, causing him to face a great number of dangers (in this book alone). Also like within The Dresden Files universe, our hero slowly finds out he's a bit more special than he thought.
The ghostly world gets quite fleshed out in this book as well, while still leaving some mysteries open for future tales. We watch our hero perform experiments and gather info that leads to various understandings of the rules of the semi-afterlife. We also see our hero learn some lessons the hard way via some unexpected avenues.
I said this story was a bit rushed, and it was. If you've ever read the Harry Potter novels, imagine them condensed (devoid of anything not absolutely relevant to the overall story) and in one book. That's sort of how this book felt.
That's not a bad thing mind you, it's just a different style. It reminds me a lot of "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman. Each chapter/episode is a new adventure in the life of our protagonist, so while it does jump forward a bit, it keeps the story moving.
The downside of the above would be the narrator. Even when in the same chapter (or even page), it's usually clear when the writer wants to break and shift to a new scene; however this narrator plows right through, leaving you feel a bit like you just missed a step. Makes you wonder if they had limited time in the studio to do the reading.
The narrator also does a fairly poor job at various voices and even tones while reading. Most of the prose is read in the same tone of voice and can easily blend together if you're listening while driving or some other activity.
Overall, I'd give the story a solid 4-4.5, it was enjoyable, even if rushed (including the resolution). If you consider the story a compilation of adventures, that should help with any jarring transitions.
I'd have to give the narrator a 3 though.
A bit disorganized
Perhaps consolidate some of the "side" and "back" story to streamline things. As it stands, this came across as two tales shoehorned into one.
This is the first time. Narrator was perfectly fine.
A race against the past?
If you split the book into two separate mysteries, it likely would have been more focused. I'm not sure if they would have been able to carry separate books on their own, but they certainly would have been focused.
The problem here is that there are two mysteries in this book. One is in the past, the other is time-sensitive. The way the mysteries are joined is tenuous at best. It just feels forced. On top of that, as the character progresses through the mysteries the bits and pieces that come out only serve to confuse things. Are they related? No? Who knows!
Again, had they been separate, the story would have felt more focused.
As an aside, it got VERY annoying hearing the name of the dating website the protagonist used over, and over, and over.
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