In modern day Chicago, deja vu draws together a handsome mounted policeman and the beautiful young woman who saves his life. This tender love story pulls the reader back to previous lives and a time richly elegant. Yesterday is also a harrowing tale of escape through the American Civil War and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. A life of tragedy is Amanda's destiny, or so she believes. But, in this historical romance, Mark fights through Amanda's rejection to prove that she will love again as she once loved - Yesterday.
©2011 Samyann Curtis (P)2013 Samyann Curtis
This is my first Audible review and it is very rare that I think a book worthy of a five-star rating. "Yesterday," is an incredibly well-written blend of romance, accurate historical fiction, humor, and reincarnation . There were times when I laughed and times when I cried but, at no time was I ever bored. Samyann's attention to detail and her ability to weave a story kept me riveted all the way through the book. The characters were so well-rounded that I found it almost impossible to choose a personal favorite but I think my favorite was Mary. I can't wait for her next book and the information page at the end is something not often found in literature. This is a book that will captivate the reader whether or not he/she is a believer in reincarnation. The detail is so life-like that I've been craving corned beef and cabbage since I read "Yesterday."
Have you ever had that feeling when you meet someone for the first time that you have met each other before? After Amanda saves Chicago Mounted Police officer Mark Callahan, neither one can shake the feeling that they already know each other. Thus begins the character’s journey in Yesterday: A Novel of Reincarnation.
The story starts with a literal bang, and you’re in the action right away. We get our two leads, the object that ties them together somehow (hint: it’s a clock), and the magnetic pull that draws them together to figure out just why they feel that way. The author playfully takes her time dropping hints and defying expectations while we wait for the topic of reincarnation to be addressed in the story.
Once we finally get to the point that it is a possibility, we journey through Amanda’s present and past lives while we work toward figuring if or how she knew Mark and just what that connection actually is.
As a reader/listener, my interest was so-so in the beginning. I think the narration wasn’t as strong at that point or I simply didn’t like it as much. I found Amanda to sound weak, but at the beginning of the story Amanda is weak (mentally, not physically). Once we got to the Civil War flashbacks, I was all in. I found that timeline and those characters much more interesting than present-day Chicago. The parallel timelines worked for me, and it was great to get both of them resolved by the end of the book.
I am a frequent audiobook listener, and I know how a great narration can elevate a mediocre book. Likewise, a poor narration will make it very difficult for a good book to shine. The narrator for this was very good, and though I’ve not heard any of her work before, I would give future listens of any of her productions a chance.
She had to bring to life characters of different ages and ethnicities, and to that she succeeded. She even did a rather impressive owl in the nighttime sound that could have been straight from nature. My favorite of her voices was that of Mary and Mark when he starts slipping into his Irish brogue.
I would also like to point out here that the narration for the regression scenes was particularly well done. We hear Mary speaking to Amanda and guiding her through the process. It was done in such a calming way that I could almost believe I could put that section of the book on and put myself into a past life. As I was operating heavy machinery at the time (i.e. driving), I didn’t do it and don’t recommend it to any of you, either. In the safe comfort of your own home, have at it.
The only negative of the narration itself that I would specifically want to point out is that the voice for Ed Morgen seems a very odd choice. He sounds like an old Scandinavian from North Dakota or Minnesota, though it isn’t stated in the text or by the character’s name to be the case. The narrator is consistent, but it’s odd all the same.
Chicago as Character:
In many stories, the setting can become a character all its own. In this story, Chicago native Samyann puts in the confident details to make Chicago vital to its role as the setting. This story, in either time line, really couldn’t have happened anywhere else, and it begins at the start when Amanda is looking out through her window and sees the Ferris wheel on the Navy Pier. Amanda’s cat is even named Oprah, a cute, though sometimes distracting detail.
Some of the writing shines in what might seem as throw-away details that would have been forgotten or skipped with other writers. In one scene, Mark has a toothpick and it is explicitly stated that at one moment the toothpick is flat across Mark’s bottom lip. In a different passage later in the book, Mark sits down and is described as putting his ankle on his knee. (Samyann does it better than I did just there.) That is such a typically male piece of body language, and it helped make Mark seem a more complete person.
I found Amanda to be a completely frustrating character. She is so damaged and wears her damage close to the surface at times. I don’t think Amanda was a poorly written character. I actually think the opposite is true. She was so well written that it made my time with her uncomfortable for me since I am not naturally sympathetic to that type of person. Many times I wanted to slap the woman and tell her to stop wallowing in self pity. I am obviously not as kind as Mark, who had the patience of a saint.
Though I didn’t initially like her very much, I did hold out some hope that the author would make Amanda’s narrative arc one where she conquered her personal demons, and by the end she is in a much better place as a character.
Book covers are an art, and in many indie books they can be embarrassingly bad. This cover is not that kind at all. It is truly clever and appropriate to the story, and the font choice is appropriate and effective.
Lots and lots o’ Alcohol:
I am not a drinker, and I find mentions of it in writing laughable and distracting. Many times it seems like an attempt to make a character look cool and sophisticated, but that backfires for me as a reader. In this story, Amanda and Mark are drinking at almost every single occasion they are together, and there are usually multiple drinks. The first time Mark stays over at Amanda’s apartment he does so because he’s too drunk to go home.
I was starting to get put out with the alcohol mentions that had seemed more like unnecessary scene flavoring, but it resulted in a very specific plot point. After one particularly stressful regression, delicate Amanda goes on this 3 day drunken bender in her apartment where she has done nothing but drink and drink. Mark goes to check on her and helps sober her up against her will. After that point, the alcohol mentions almost completely disappear.
Sex and Language:
Yes, sex happens, but never explicitly on the page. The author avoids describing the actual act, and scenes fade out usually right before or fade in right after. This is not a problem as it seems to fit the tone of the story well. The most sensual scene is a shared shower scene, but even that is kept from being too explicit.
As far as language, yes, there is swearing in this story. It’s not a main feature. There’s actually more alcohol than colorful language. I would say it’s appropriate to the characters and doesn’t detract from the story.
Miscellaneous bits and bobs:
This isn’t a comedy, but there are a few big laughs from the book really took me by surprise.
At about two-thirds into the book, Mark is critically injured and has an out of body experience. The writing and narration for that scene is very deft, one of the better scenes of the book.
I thought antique dealer Ed Morgen would play a bigger role in the book.
I also thought Mary might die by the end of the book since she is old and so important to Amanda (hint 2: she doesn’t).
Further, I had hoped perhaps we’d see Mark’s cop partner Pete get himself a girl, but there are only so many side plots a writer can put into a book without losing focus.
As an indie debut novel, this delivers an interesting, quality story that one might not expect to find in the sea of self-publishing. The pieces all tie together in the end to give a satisfactory experience, and I’m sure the author worked very hard to bring it together. When she did, though, the effect of the whole is that it’s exactly the story it should be.
This would appeal to those who love a mystery (what about the clock?), the Civil War, and a love story with a hero who does not give up on his heroine. I don’t think belief in reincarnation is required to enjoy the story, though an open mind and suspension of disbelief wouldn’t hurt.
My real rating: 4.5 stars (but 5 because we really can’t give half stars anywhere)
Disclaimer: I received a free Audible download of this story from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I found myself lost in the story, the kind of thing where you are so engrossed that you bring your head up to find you are in the real world, poof! The characters were endearing and believable.
I liked the serendipity of events, it was a very nice ride.
I haven't listened to any other Darlene Allen performances. However, I did enjoy her performance in this instance! I listen to a lot of audio books and this narration is as good as it gets.
If you could go back in time... and meet yourself in your previous life... who would you be?
I really enjoyed this book. It took me on a journey, made me care about the characters, it was well-written and well narrated.
I discovered that this is the first offering by this author. This astounds me, as I have read books that weren't half as good as this one, by authors who have been at it for decades.
The research done for this book was thorough and the book never leaves you hanging, and the factual bits are footnoted.
All in all, this is a great read. It's not a deep book, though it does have its moments, and you do come away with a few insights at the end as well.
Well done, Samyann, I look forward to more work from this author!
I'm not into romance or the paranormal, but I do enjoy historical fiction and that part of the novel is pretty entertaining. A big reason for that is the narrator. She makes the Civil War characters come to life, which makes that part of the story very believable. The Great Chicago Fire is covered as well, and I found some of that surprising. The author seems to have researched this part of history very well. So I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance, the paranormal, and/or historical fiction.
If you're like me, you'll find yourself gritting your teeth in some places. Amanda's "guide" through past life regressions has a tendency to go on tirades about religion, science, and other things. But, hold on, it gets better.
If you like Dan Brown you'll like this book. There are clues to follow and the characters raise some interesting questions.
Author. Audiobook lover. UberGeek.
Yesterday was a sweet romance tale set in two worlds.
The main character was a little hard to relate to at first, but as the story went on I grew to like her. The budding relationship between Amanda and Mark is charming and I really enjoyed 'listening' to their relationship unfold along side Amanda's tale from the past. The author did a wonderful job transporting us back in time with the characters. The descriptions of the setting were vivid and tactile.
By far the best character in the novel was the godmother. She was a nice counter to Amanda, straight talking and witty.
My biggest complaint would have to be the narrator. I was distracted by her voices at time and instead of creating a more vivid character, it would draw me out of the story.
If you are looking for a light romantic tale this would be a nice option.
The narration by Darlene Allen was spectacular. This narrator becomes the characters and you can visualize the characters by the voice that she uses.
The historical fiction. Civil war era. I enjoyed the reincarnation segments. They were done appropriately and in good taste. This writer handled this very well. The flow of the story from present day to reincarnation travel is done very well.
Yes. Every book I listen to by this narrator is excellent! It is hard to compare one excellent narration to another excellent narration. I can visualize Mary because of the narration.
Yes, I would have sat and listened in all one setting if I could have. I carried my phone or iPad all over with me so I could continue with the story.
Great book, well written, excellent narration. I am going to look for other books by this author and narrator.
Yes. The author does a beautiful job of weaving the past and the present together. Her portrayal of scenes in the past were vivid and painted images in a movie-like fashion.I think anyone that's ever experienced deja vu and wondered about reincarnation would enjoy this story very much.
Great ending. I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
The narrator handles a wide range of characters that come from different walks of life. While she did a wonderful job creating a unique voice for each, there were times that her portrayal of Amanda felt overly dramatic. However, I quickly got over it since I was engulfed in the story and wanted to know what would happen next.
Darlene Allen is an ideal narrator for this book. She does a good job with her female voices and with the dialects. Most of her male voices are convincingly masculine. I liked her voice of Mark, the male protagonist, the best,though she does have a little trouble with his accent, sometimes.
Samyann, with her beautiful gift for writing, uses reincarnation to resolve the conflict between the lovers in a way that I found unique. In addition to being a romance, this story is also a historical fiction, and the historical aspects are tied in well with the storyline. There are scenes in the story that slow down the momentum and the tension. However, these scenes are informative and have characters in them, you’ll enjoy meeting. The sex in the book is not explicit, and there is a good deal of profanity. Amanda and Mark, the heroine and hero, respectively, are well-developed characters. Listeners should have no problems following them through their struggles to overcome the past and to be happy together in the present [Just Audiobook Reviews].
There are some great elements in this story. Although it is a work of fiction, the author does such a superb job with the research to support this novel that it enhances the reader's experience.
The story is about a chance meeting between Amanda and Mark in which Amanda rescues Mark from what could have been a fatal event. Pulled towards each other by an unforeseen familiarity that nags at each other, Mark convinces Amanda to undergo past-life regression therapy in order to determine where the sense of deja vu lies. Set in modern time with glimpses of a life long passed lived, the novel flips back and forth in a seamless movement that takes the reader through a tale of past lives, soul-mates, and the fear of loss. Samyann is a master at description, cleverly using words to portray each character, the situation, and the location of the story, she gives you the right amount of details, but not too much to saturate the scene. I enjoyed this part of the story, however I would have given it a higher rating if I didn't find the main character, Amanda, difficult to relate to. I have never experienced loss like she had and maybe this is where the disconnect lies, but I felt that a strong leading character would have been written where I could somehow empathize with the individual. Amanda was immature and reluctant in ways that made my head-spin and roll my eyes. She had a huge character flaw she needed to overcome, but the progression was slow and painful and I had trouble bringing myself to listen to the tale when I knew I was going to be greeted with more silliness from her. I liked Mark and his dominating, take-charge attitude, however. He was the best part of the tale except he was almost perfect especially in contrast to Amanda's flaws. I also enjoyed the supporting cast of Amanda's aunt and Mark's partner as they added color and humor to the story.
I just wanted to mention: I love romance novels, but I tend to gravitate towards the romance novels that are more risque in content, if you know what I mean. This novel is not my normal romance read. A lot was left to the readers interpretation of what happens behind closed doors. So keep that in mind those of you who share my taste in romance novels;)
Narrator: Darlene Allen
I listened to this book at 1.3X the speed and I think that may have distorted my opinion of Darlene Allen's narration. She would pause for emphasis, but it would come across as interrupted flow in the narration. Also when she read Amanda's line she sounded almost child-like (especially the scene where Amanda was drunk, it was detrimental to my perception of Amanda). Otherwise, he distinction between characters were great.
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