This must be Tami Hoag in a prior life, writing a different genre. Pure romance -- assuming that's what the intent is.
I get more pleasure listening to the two feral cats out in the back yard, snarling, howling and hissing at each other prior to mating..... at least the cats are honest about it.
Too bad, too. Having read almost all the Tess Monaghan books and at least a couple of the stand-alones, I was greatly looking forward to this one. Laura Lippman is a fine writer, by any standard. But not this time. I didn't connect with this one at all.
It doesn't really fit into any genre -- it's not really a mystery, or if it is, it's so slow moving and tedious that if that's what you wanted, you'd give up early. (I nearly did, many different times.) It could be chic lit of some kind, what with all the women and their inner monologues, fighting over what this criminal they loved had left them as he fled -- "the women" including a wife, mistresses, various female children, various extended family. It could be just a straight novel, maybe, but it's just not good enough. The 'who cares?' factor is way too high. In fact, if anyone other than an established author like Lippman had written this, it would never have sold.
All the way through, I was wondering if the narration was a part of the problem. Narrator Linda Emond has a very pleasant, easy to listen to voice, but as the story jumps back and forth in time, with several different women talking about what they were thinking, what they did, what they wore, what others had done to them, what they should have done, etc etc it was extremely difficult to keep track of who was talking, and where in time they were. Emond didn't make any serious attempt at differentiating the voices, nor did she sometimes even pause, when leaping from an historical accounting into the present or back again. In fact, I started/restarted this book three different times -- never would have done that, if it had been anyone but Lippman -- but in the early pages, I couldn't figure out who was talking, when it was taking place, or who was talking next. Not to mention that it was boring, right off the block. I couldn't find a way to care.
Toward the end, I found myself wondering if this was a fleshed-out true Baltimore story of some kind -- a criminal, flush with assets, runs off to parts unknown, forever, thus avoiding conviction, while the women he leaves behind fight over his left-behind spoils. The "cold case" investigation never seems to be a real part of the story -- just something shuffled in, here and there, so it could sort-of qualify as detective fiction.
Best advice? Skip this one. Virtually any other book by Miss Lippman will be better. Oh, and another piece of advice? If you're going to name your protagonist "Bambi", you darn well better be writing a literary masterpiece, because we all harbor too many cutesy associations with that name to tolerate anything short of genius.
Yet another bargain book success! Never heard of either the book or the author, but decided to roll the dice and take a chance -- and once again, that was a good idea.
It's funny, they say there are only four basic plots in all of fiction, but I'm not sure how that accounts for this one. As the story evolves, a pretty unique situation reveals itself -- although in today's crazy world I suppose it isn't quite as unique as I think it is. Even so, this was like nothing I'd ever read before. I loved the freshness of the whole thing.
Karen MacInerny has created interesting, likable characters and structured a truly unique plot but what makes this book a real delight is how funny it is. One of the side-stories deals with how Margie, formerly a stay at home mother, now a new, untrained, part-time private eye, is forced to deal with the head of her daughter's day care center. My kids are grown now, but it seems to me I had some of those same inane discussions with a similar Witch in Power when they were little -- you know, the "Solve (this issue with your child) by tomorrow, or we're expelling her." No, my daughter hadn't decided that she was a dog -- with all that entails, including eating on the floor, barking, biting, etc -- but I seem to recall similar disputes and similar chaos. And I also recall spending some evenings with one kid or the other, explaining just how important to Life As We Know it, that they amend their conduct by tomorrow morning, or all hell was going to break loose. Like Margie, I simply could not deal with having to find new child care arrangements. I'm sure most other working mothers will have had similar experiences. Odd how much more fun it is to remember those situations than was dealing with them in the first place!
Also odd was that so many readers compared this book to those of Janet Evanovitch. I don't get that at all. I've read/tried to read a couple of Evanovitch's books, and didn't enjoy them at all -- I've stopped even looking at her series. To me, the Evanovitch books came across as downright silly, whereas this one was genuinely funny. All in the eyes of the beholder, I suppose.
So? All in all, a good book and a great narrator. I'll be looking for more.
I listened to "The Weight of Silence", also by -- then unknown to me -- author Heather Gudenkauf and generally liked it -- I liked it well enough to try another. Who knew that this second book would ultimately rank among my all-time favorites? All through the whole book, I kept making mental lists of everyone I had to pester, to get them to read/listen to 'Little Mercies'. It's a stunner, by any standard. Wish I had someone to discuss it with.
There's a dual plot: in one segment, Ellen Moore is a first-class social worker, the kind of passionate, caring, dedicated social worker we wish all of them were. But by a freaky communication error with her husband on a hot and hectic morning, Ellen doesn't realize that her husband has already put baby Avery in Ellen's car. Ellen rushes off to a client emergency, not knowing her one-year-old is in the back seat. Not until she returns to her car hours later and finds people breaking the windows to free her unconscious child does she realize what happened.
In a parallel story, a gutsy little ten year old Jenny Baird finds herself alone on a bus, heading to a strange town, after her ne'er-do-well father gets himself into a fight and arrested as he's just about to board. it's a heartbreaking tale, as this little girl tries to seek out first her grandmother, whom she's never met, and then her mother, who's never cared two bits about her, and finds herself lost and alone, each time - except, that is, for the 'little mercies' of total strangers who lovingly take her in and try to help.....
In a way, 'Little Mercies' reminds me of the best of Jodi Picault's books. With the two parallel stories, each told by an excellent narrator, you experience two compelling tales as they intertwine. in Jenny's story, we wish we all had the kindness of some of the people Jenny meets. And in Ellen's story, virtually all of us who are mothers won't have too much trouble seeing this terrible chain of events as happening to any one of us. One of my friends -- mother of seven children herself -- is adamant that any parent who "forgets" his/her child in a locked car should simply be taken out and shot, no further questions asked. No caring parent, she contends, could ever be so mindless. This friend is at the top of my list to get her to read this book. It CAN happen. Innocently, and in spite of every safeguard -- well almost every safeguard -- it does happen. And what follows compounds the tragedy.
Warning: once you start listening, you'd better clear your schedule. There are times when you simply can't stop listening, you just have to push on. It's that good.
I've been seeing these books by Rhys Bowen for years, but always avoided them. "Spyness" it says, and espionage isn't one of my favored genres. But then came a Daily Deal, and an affordable way to see what the books were all about, because indeed, most of these books were getting great reviews.
I loved it! As it turns out, the "spying" involved isn't international cloak and dagger stuff -- more like cape-and-butter knife social affairs, ferreting out juicy bits of gossip for "HRM" -- and in her service, but of course! The "spying" leads to some dangerous situations for several people, some of whom survive, others who don't, but whatever, it's a worthy tale and a pleasure throughout.
Bowen's characters were uniquely interesting, and there was a very credible mystery at the heart of the plot. Not a simpering heroine in sight, but rather a spunky down-on-her-luck member of the royal family -- somewhat distant, but not THAT distant -- who takes charge in a rather admirable way. Several "real" people were scattered among the fictional ones -- I loved the characterization of Wallace Simpson -- I have no idea if this portrayal is accurate or not, but in Rhys Bowen's hands, she comes off as slightly wacky, irreverent, outrageous and seriously funny. Same with the protagonist, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie -- and especially her much-married mother, who's equally flamboyant and not the least bit ashamed of it. Who would imagine that the stiff-upper-lip English gentry could be so funny behind doors?
Very good book -- unfortunately, most of them are too short for me to spend a credit on, so I'll have to look for more bargains, or find them in print. But I'll definitely be looking.
Confession: I love detective fiction, murder mysteries, suspense plots of all kinds, but what I mostly appreciate about them are the characters, the location, occasionally an interesting plot or subplot that deals with something that interests me. In spite of it all, I don't particularly care who "done" it. Occasionally, I will skip the last 20-30 pages of a book entirely -- I'd like to know who actually DID it, but when the explanation of how they did it, or why, gets too long and tiresome, I tune out. I really don't care.
This is one such book. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 5.5 hours of this book -- I like the main anti-hero character -- okay, he's no George Ripley, but still, as a witty, sophisticated and delightfully droll thief, he was just fine. I liked the Amsterdam location. I thought I was enjoying the plot.
But then the denouement started, waaaaaaay too early -- and it went on, and on and on and on. Explanation after explanation.... good grief. For a book that's slightly over 7 hours long, if it takes 1.5 hours to explain how it all happened, that's too much. Too complex. I no longer cared -- I wanted to move along to something else.
I quit listening with 48 minutes left.... way too much explanation for me. Good book, though, up to that point.
Let me say first, I'm a HUGE fan of J. A. Jance. I've read most of the print copies of her gazillion books, and have purchased eight of her audiobooks, mostly the Johanna Brady series. This was my second Ali Reynolds -- which is a good thing: if I had listened to this one first, I never would have bought another.
First of all, this has to be one of the worst-produced audio books I've ever listened to. At random moments, some peppy, jazzy, supposedly uplifting elevator music interrupts the reading, sometimes drowning out the narrator's voice. It's so inappropriate - what on earth was someone thinking?? It's not chapter divisions, one such interruption was mid-sentence. Totally weird -- and completely destroys whatever mood the book was building toward.
Then too, much of this book is told in the form of blogs, which might work well on paper, but in an audiobook, not so much. Listening to the narrator's letter-reading voice has a limited appeal - nothing happens, no action or interaction with someone else, just pretty darn dry statements of opinion and articulation of thoughts.
Finally, a word for authors out there, even really really good ones, like Jance: Perfect people get pretty boring after awhile. It's all well and good to create a laudable character -- not ALL protagonists have to be "flawed". But there has to be a limit. If I wanted to engross myself in completely selfless behavior, I guess I'd opt for Butler's "Lives of the Saints" instead. At least those were real people. Just how perfect is our multi-fired, multi-sued, widowed, about to be divorced nee widowed girl, who always-and-forever puts everyone else on the planet's wishes ahead of her own? One example: a consummately evil man has broken into her home and is beating her to death. In the last possible second, she breaks away, gets her gun, and shoots him to death. Then we have to put up with an agony of soul searching, as Ali beats her breast over what she did to the man's MOTHER -- not anyone she knew, of course, just the woman who had given birth to this monster. "What must she be feeling? I killed her son!" Ali ponders.... well, I don't know what the mother was feeling, assuming she felt anything at all. But I guess if it were me, having marginally survived such a brutal attack, I really don't think fretting about his mother would be at the top of my list of worries -- but then, I'm not a saint. Thank Gd.
All this is overlaid with Ali's (more understandable) agonizing over the supposed suicide of her best childhood friend. She feels guilty for not having... well, you can imagine. Bottom line: too much agonizing, too much introspection, too many selfless goody-goody acts from a woman who, supposedly, was once a nationally-famous news reporter, who absolutely MUST, at some point, have kicked serious butt to have attained THAT.
One good thing: we get to find out where Sam the cat comes from, which solves that mystery. As for the rest of it, give this one a pass. The subsequent Ali Reynolds books are pretty good. I guess this was just the practice book.
An extremely amateur -- written and narrated both -- attempt at, what? A mystery? A diatribe against the religious right? A collection of leftist cliches, thrown unto the pages, in some random order?
Only redeeming social value: if you wonder what's wrong with American colleges and Universities today, this will help you understand. With kids graduating from institutions like this, maybe it's a wonder the country isn't worse off than it is -- assuming that's possible.
I'm an audiobook purist. In terms of narration, my wants are simple. I simply want someone to read the book to me, straight out -- no requirement for acting out each character, although for those narrators with serious talent (Scott Brick comes to mind, as does Davina Porter among many others) narrators who have the ability to give individual voices to characters without being annoying are especially appreciated. I award bonus points if the narrator pronounces location names correctly and refrains from eating while narrating (as one especially irritating narrator does.) I don't need musical introductions or interludes, and in general I don't think having multiple narrators improves anything.
So I bought this book - it must have been a Daily Deal -- without paying too much attention. Then when I started to listen, and heard that it was being read by a professional "repertoire company" I almost clicked off, right at that point. Having a book "acted out" doesn't appear at all. To me, audio books are -- as one OTR program famously says -- "the theater of the mind". I'll create my own scenes, in my mind, as we go along. I don't want actors playing the parts, dramatizing the story. If I want actual theater, I'll go to Netflix.
But I persevered - and I was surprised. It wasn't bad at all -- each of the narrators did a very good job, didn't over-act, basically they just gave individual voices to the several characters. Overall, I don't know that this method improved the book any, but it didn't detract, either. It was fine.
And the story was good -- suspenseful, believable and kept me listening. I liked it enough that I just bought a second book by Heather Gudenkauf -- which has to be the ultimate compliment. This was a good book -- give it a try!
I know I'll like this book much better the second or third time around... this first time I listened, I was holding my breath during most of it, so I couldn't really concentrate. It's VERY tense -- and if you're a crazy dog lady like I am, you will be scared to death something is going to happen to Maggie.
"Suspect" is a great book in every respect. I loved Maggie, the damaged, come-from-behind German Shepard -- everybody will love her. It would be impossible not to love a dog with that much heart. Loved Scott James, the equally damaged police officer, trying for a comeback, battling his own demons. The villains were just evil enough, perfectly believable. Crais wisely didn't try to insert a "love interest" or try to turn this into a love story, when the book needed no such thing - it was the love between Maggie and Scott that was important. MacLeod Andrews did a perfect narration -- including narrating Maggie's parts, which he did very well. All in all, just great.
Interesting that a very similar -- and equally good -- book came out awhile ago, "Burning Man" by Alan Russell, also available on Audible. In that book, the damaged police dog was "Sirius" who'd been seriously burned in the line of duty, and the also wounded police officer trying for the comeback was Michael Gideon. "Burning Man" has a more complex plot, with several "cold cases" going on, whereas Robert Crais spent more time talking about working dogs, how they learn, what they learn, what astonishing capabilities they have. I loved that book too -- they're both well done.
I'm hoping for sequels to both books -- keep 'em coming!
This isn't my genre, and normally I'd give any book with the word "psychic" in it a wide berth, but it was a "Daily Deal", and I've had good luck with those, so I went for it.
I liked it. This isn't great literature, you understand, but as a nice, casual, interesting summer listen, something a little different, it was more than fine. The "psychic" element in the book didn't come off as weird or kooky, but merely as interesting. All in all, it had a well-constructed plot, interesting characters, and was well narrated.
The ultimate test? If I came across another Abby Cooper book, I'd probably go for it.
Report Inappropriate Content