Amery, WI, United States
As a fan of Hercule Poirot -- from the TV shows -- when I found the audiobooks, I began to devour them. It is hard to classify one book better or worse than another; they are all very good.
This one, though, has one added advantage -- the Orient Express is caught in a snow bank and Poirot has no access to outside information, such as marriage records in London or Scotland Yard investigation clues. Poirot must rely on his own "little gray cells."
My only complaint -- and this is with most of the Christie novels, whether read by Suchet or Hugh Fraser (who played Hastings in the TV shows) -- is the British concept of the American accent. Ugh. Sorry, but most Americans do not sound like Cagney and other 1930s / 1940s Chicago bootleggers. Otherwise, I enjoy the audio versions of the Hercule Poirot novels and short stories immensely.
Not being able to find a list of Hall's Vampire books that shows the order of the stories, I had started with "The Vampire's Christmas." I enjoyed that book very much. Audible has only one other of Hall's Vampire novels and this is it. I'm not sure whether there are four, five or six novels in the series (looking at a list of Hall novels at Amazon -- not all had book descriptions).
Anyhow, the two audiobooks available here at Audible have different narrators. I liked the voice chosen for "The Vampire's Christmas" better than the one used here. The Brits have definite ideas of what American's sound like -- Chicago bootleggers of the 1920s, Boston Italians, or New York City Jewish Princesses and their moms. (No ethnic slurs intended here -- it is just these are the stereotypical voices used in the majority of British books that involve characters from the USA.) Here the New York accent is just too much ...
Also, call me a prude or something but I was shocked to hear some of the language that was used in a supposed children's book -- like damn and hell. Not generally accepted words in books for a younger audience. May be okay in a YA book but not a middle grade book (if that is what this is supposed to be). I assumed the Vampire books by Willis Hall are intended for a middle grade audience because of Henry Hollins who features in "The Vampire's Christmas" and a few other Vampire books. Henry does not appear in this story so I am not really sure of the intended audience (except that the publisher of the hardcover edition is Bodley Head Children's Books) ...
Still a fun story. Maybe not as fun as "The Vampire's Christmas." But still a fun listen.
One tiny production error -- toward the end of the book, two characters are said to be in Pennsylvania when they are in fact in Transylvania. ** sigh **
I wish Audible had the other books. A few are available as cassettes tapes at Amazon, but I really prefer the digital audiobooks better (besides it is getting harder to find cassette players!)
Final analysis -- "The Vampire's Christmas" is a better book, but this one is okay.
Being anti-animal testing is great. It is a good stance to have.
Well, at the halfway point through the book, (2:41:46), I had decided I hated this book. And it would have gotten one or no stars except that I liked Max the Talking Cat (not giving away anything there, since the book description tells us that a cat "asks" for help) and the 9-year old computer wiz, Ben.
The author needed to make a greater effort to follow the "Show Don't Tell" rule -- to make her point about being anti-animal testing. The story plot and the characters could have pulled off getting that point across in a much more subtle way.
I'm an adult to whom many people might say I'm too old to be listening to kids books. But I love them. Many are so much more inventive than the ones written for the adult audience. And I have two special young friends who read almost as much as I do (in fact, I think one may devour just as many or even more books in a year than I do!) ...
They would agree with me that the heavy-handed handling of the anti-animal testing would keep them from recommending the book to their friends.
Think "101 Dalmatians" -- Was there any overt anti-fur statement in that book or the various movie adaptations? No.
The last 2:41:32 of the book was more action related. However, one character, Ben, the computer wiz, is also a bit of a hacker. Um ... should an author of children's books be condoning hacking and photo-faking? It would have been better if the info the kids gathered was through further sneaky activities (like how they got hold a huge trove of emails) or through legitimate internet searches rather than actual hacking -- especially since the author is also heavy-handed with "teaching" all about internet- and computer-safety concerning passwords and the like.
Most people want to read fiction to be entertained not "taught." Now, if teaching occurs, fine, but I don't want to be aware that the author is really trying to make me "learn" this stuff or share a certain opinion. Subtlety, even when writing for a younger audience that may not do as much abstract thinking as adults or teens do, has got to be better than the sledgehammer approach.
but the execution ...
Maybe it just me. Maybe I am not familiar with books written in this style.
There is little actual dialog, little actual plot. It is almost like someone wrote out their feelings and activities, for a diary entry, about the day the local Red Lobster closed. Yeh, that's it, it's like a diary entry.
Still, it is an interesting story. Last day before the restaurant closes. Staffing problems. Then a snowstorm that keeps away customers. Worrying about the marlin on the wall.
Not a bad book. Not a spectacular book. An okay book. An okay listen. Probably better as a listen than as a read.
Well, this is the second book of the series. But since this one was on sale and sounded like a book I would be interested in, I decided to start here.
Now, I have to go back to the first book and work my way through a series that isn't quite long enough yet. I enjoyed this book a lot. And look forward to each addition to the series in the future.
Okay, I'm not sure that I should compare one series with another by different authors but ... I'm going to.
I started the Stephanie Plum books, by Janet Evanovich, with "Plum Spooky" because I am originally from southern New Jersey and wanted to know Evanovich's "take" on the Pine Barrens. Quickly, I added to my collection from that series, but mostly because I enjoyed all the supporting characters like Lula, Grandma Mazur and Connie. Stephanie -- well, she's the glue that brings together all these fun and wacky people.
However, here, Sophie is an interesting character in herself. Her supporting character friends and family are interesting but aren't the draw here. Sophie holds her own.
Onward to the the rest of this series!
Single librarian turned into vampire.
Hmmm ... has potential.
I'm not really "into" the paranormal fad but recently have found myself indulging in books in the genre.
My husband noticed this one and brought it to my attention. He thought I might find the book summary just "funny" enough to be interested.
And yes, the summary made it sound like a book with a bit of comedy in it.
Librarian gets pink slip with a gift card to a local bar, gets stinking, has car trouble on the way home, decides to walk the rest of the way, gets mistaken for a deer by a poaching shiner. I mean, that is just all flat out almost "silly" and as the premise for a book, should make for a witty and amusing tale.
I was disappointed.
Sure, she is shot, wakes three days later as a vampire, goes home and sees her dead great-aunt who had left her the house in her will, deals with family members who believe that aunt made a big mistake leaving the house to her, deals with family who believe she needs to get a life and find a new job, and deals with the vampire who made her, deals with vampire politics and intrigue when another vampire is actually murdered and is dead for good, plus deals with an old friend who starts attending a support group for friends of "others."
While I grinned at the turn of events toward the very end of the book, I wasn't impressed enough to bother going any further in the series.
I may have missed something while listening to this book. But I am not sure where or when Betsy was actually unappreciated in the book. Well, she does mess up with her friends at one point and reaps the cold shoulder consequences of those actions. "Unappreciated" doesn't seem to be the right word to describe that, though. The alliteration in the title is catchy ...
The short summary of the book tells us that Betsy has a half-sister that she didn't know about and there is a prophecy about them both.
Betsy wants to know more and reads from The Books of The Dead for too long with bad consequences. She wants to meet her sister and goes looking for her. Finds her and, well, ... talk about "Minnesota Nice" ... Laura is the walking embodiment of it. Betsy isn't sure she can tell Laura about the prophecy. To make matters even worse, the nightclub is on the verge of bankruptcy. The worst thing, though, is not Betsy's stepmother's pregnancy -- no, it is Betsy's reaction to Sinclair. Her "life," she feels, is really complicated.
Some reviewers here didn't like this addition to the Queen Betsy series. Everyone has their own tastes and is entitled to them. This book is a little bit different. Yet it moves along the overall plot and adds new characters and twists. It is a decent addition to the series.
I was most surprised that the reader/narrator is the same for this third book of the series as for the first two -- I don't remember her voicing of Sinclair being so stilted and "off" in the first two. She does a good job except for Sinclair.
Part of me shudders to think of the mice and a rat living together in a doll house in the Macy's department store, taking nighttime nibbles from the cheeses and meats in the deli case. When I lived near downtown Minneapolis, I loved the deli at Dayton's and often bought entrees to take to work for my dinner.
Another part of me shrugs, lets the thought go and decides to just enjoy the story of how two mice and a rat discover the truth. One wintry evening, Marvin makes his way into a store to get out of the cold. He discovers the deli and a dollhouse. He decides to move in and then goes to find his two friends, Fats and Raymond, to bring them to join him there.
Fats is entranced by the store Santa. When Santa goes missing, the three friends decide to find him.
Marvin reminded me of Geronimo Stilton in many ways.
I give this book a thumbs up and recommend it to anyone who enjoys tales of the tiny triumphing over the big.
Thankfully I am very familiar with the voice of Richard Briers from the BBC series GOOD NEIGHBORS. There is no narrator in this tale and the casted dramatization of the tale requires the ability to follow the voices to keep track of who is doing what. I had a little bit of a hard time, occasionally, following the action.
However, the tale will become part of my annual holiday entertainment -- just like I HAVE to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas, listen to or watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, watch It's A Wonderful Life. (Anyone know where I can get a copy of Bernard and the Genie?)
This is a fun little tale. About Christmas wishes, fears, party plans, Christmas guests, and being among friends. What could be better?
Once I listen to this tale again, I will probably want to change my current ratings to higher ones. Right now they are at 3 because of how I got lost in following the action in a few spots. If I listen again, I'm sure I'll follow it better -- and while I know I won't be able to change my review, maybe I'll be able to up my star ratings ... :-)
But if you like to create metal pictures in your own head -- this is a fun little listen!
The snowfolk do lots of fun things. Having the illustrations could actually spoil it :-) It is fun to imagine all the things they do.
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