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Rochelle D.

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Dead Ends audiobook cover art

Well-written, chilling stories

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-18

I read Dead Ends, by Bart Hopkins, in one short afternoon. The book consists of three short horror stories, all of which I found to be enjoyable and in a language that was understandable and easy to read. The main characters were all relatable, everyday people, which added to the enjoyment and overall creepiness of the stories. I seriously couldn't put this book down. I went into it with the mindset that I was going to read one story, and then before I realized it, almost two and a half hours had passed and I had read all three! It was definitely time well spent, though.

In "Recalculating," a housewife comes across a GPS for $5 at a garage sale and decides that she and her husband need a vacation. It was the type of story that I knew how it was going to end before it ended, but getting there was still an exciting ride. I think this one might have been my favorite and the most macabre of the three.

The second story, "Sweet Lenora," takes place in 1930's Pennsylvania. Lenora's mother is constantly lecturing her on how she is not ladylike enough, which eventually has dire consequences. I had no idea how this story was going to play out until I finished it and just couldn't believe what had happened.

In the final story, "Donations," two story lines merge to form an incredibly creepy turn of events. I don't want to spoil anything here, so I'll just say that I found this story to be the most chilling of the three, and I'm sure glad I have very watchful neighbors and no spare key outside my house.

I listened to the stories in audio, and I thought Wayne June, the narrator, did an excellent job; it's almost like he was made for acting out the horror genre, although I'm sure he is great at others as well. One of the biggest points for me when listening to an audiobook is whether I can tell who is speaking by voice alone, and I could easily discern the speaker with June's easy-to-follow narration. Even in a dialogue between two female characters, he acted them out in a way that I could still tell the difference. The book was already exciting, but I felt like June made it even more so with his voice acting, as he told the stories, especially the creepy parts, in a gripping way that made me need to keep listening; I think this was the reason I was able to finish it in a single afternoon.

For me, June narrated the book at a perfect pace. I've always thought horror was a genre that could be ruined by reading too quickly, as sometimes the reader won't obtain the full effect if the stories are rushed. But I thought he did an excellent job narrating at a comfortable speed. The plot flowed very well and without interruption, and I did not notice any blatant edits in the audio or anything else in the quality that would distract from the book.

This was a very pleasant listening experience for me. I felt like the narrator enhanced the text, and if I had just been reading the physical book, I might not have gotten quite the same chilling effect as I did listening to June's reading of it. The stories themselves are creepy and exciting, and I would highly recommend them to anyone interested in horror or just looking for a thrilling read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Never Hero audiobook cover art

Amazing Book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-18

The Never Hero, by T. Ellery Hodges, is the first installment in the story of Jonathan Tibbs, a normal, reclusive college student who is assaulted by a blond man in his house while his roommates are out. He wakes later in a puddle of his own blood without a scratch or any other damage to his body. His life undergoes a huge shift when an alien beast begins wreaking havoc in the streets, killing left and right looking for its challenger. Jonathan must become a weapon, fighting the monster while remaining completely anonymous. This book is a mix of sci-fi and action/adventure that I personally couldn't put down. Many great scenes occurred throughout the story, but my favorites were definitely the epic fight scenes. I loved every moment I spent listening to this audiobook, and when it ended, I was all the more eager to read the second book.

I thought the book was very suitable for audio narration, and that the narrator, Steven Barnett, did so much with the opportunity presented to him. There were some parts of the book that called for voice modulators, which he used flawlessly. All of the characters were extremely well-voiced, and I could always tell who was speaking. I especially enjoyed the voice of the tall, blond man, as Barnett gave him an interesting accent and unmistakable voice tones. Barnett enunciated his words very well throughout the duration of the book, but sometimes I thought he enunciated almost too well, distracting from some of the dialogue. All in all, though, he was an excellent voice actor and I look forward to listening to more of his work.

As far as production and sound quality go, I thought Barnett maintained a pretty consistent pace throughout the story. He lowered his voice during moments of intensity, which added a lot to the novel. I didn't notice any technical flaws or edits during my listening experience.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a thrilling read voiced by a very interesting narrator. The plot was exciting and always kept me guessing through its entirety, and Barnett did an excellent job with both reading the story itself and voicing the characters. I already have the next book purchased and I can't wait to listen!

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

Little Fires Everywhere audiobook cover art

Amazing Story with Wonderful Characters

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-31-18

I thought Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ainge, was an incredible story, both in plot and character development. Elena Richardson and her family live in Shaker Heights, pretty much a utopia community with perfectly manicured lawns and a tree in front of every house. Mia Warren, an eccentric artist, and her teenage daughter become tenants in the Richardsons' rental home, bringing with them a mysterious past and alluring the Richardson children. Trouble erupts when a friend of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese baby and a custody battle ensues, putting Mia and the Richardsons on opposite sides. Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover Mia's secret past, with dire consequences for both families.

In my opinion, the characters were very believable and well-developed. They seemed to react to situations in ways I felt like a lot of people might have reacted.

I thought Jennifer Lim did an excellent job at narrating the story. She used different voices for all of the characters, in particular, softening her voice when reading Mia and using a firmer tone for that of Mrs. Richardson. She also read the Chinese accent for one of the characters very convincingly. I thought her voice was perfect for this book and she was very pleasant to listen to. She kept up a good pace throughout the story, without reading so quickly that I couldn't grasp the plot. I had no trouble hearing soft voices, and the sound quality was perfect; there was no background noise or latency that I could hear.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent story with fantastic narration. Jennifer Lim complimented the book really well. I always looked forward to reading it, and I was both thrilled and sad when it ended: thrilled that I finally got to find out what happened, and sad that this particular experience was over. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting story with an excellent plot and plenty of twists to keep them guessing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

When Dimple Met Rishi audiobook cover art

Good Romance with Excellent Narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-31-18

I found When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon, to be a very engaging read. Dimple is an Indian-American recent high school graduate passionate about coding and Web development living in Fresno. She is not interested in domestic life and is very career-driven. So when she attends a coding conference in San Francisco, only to find that her parents have set her up to possibly marry an Indian-American guy, Rishi, she is less than thrilled. Rishi is a hopeless romantic who is totally on-board with the idea of this arrangement. I felt like the author developed the characters relatively well, although I would have liked to have learned more details about the more minor characters in the book, such as Rishi's younger brother and Dimple's roommate at the conference. Another thing some might appreciate about the book is that it isn't laden with sexual content. Just thought that might be worth mentioning, as some romances tend to use erotic scenes frequently.

I felt like the book was definitely suitable for audio narration, especially because it was dual narrated to show the points of view switching between Dimple and Rishi. I thought that Rishi's narrator, Vikas Adam, did an excellent job at portraying the characters' voices and made them all pretty distinct, especially those of Rishi and his younger brother; I never got confused as to which one was speaking. Dimple's narrator, Sneha Mathan, was also great, but her accent was pretty thick and sometimes I missed certain words or phrases because of that. She was also excellent at using distinct voices for each character. Many Indian phrases and words were used in the book, and both narrators spoke them well and with excellent accents.

I personally thought the narration was a bit slow for my taste, but the pace was at least consistent between narrators. I didn't hear any edits or technical issues in the recording, and the volume was consistent between narrators and character voices.

All in all, listening to this book was a very positive experience for me. I felt like some of the sappiness could have been shortened a bit (I mean, I get that this is a romance, but come on.), but the narrators did an excellent job with the romantic aspects, making the read enjoyable. Both narrators compliment the text well, especially because they both seemed to have an understanding of the Indian language when those parts came up. I can't stress enough how much I appreciated it being dual narrated, as the male and female voices portrayed Rishi's and Dimple's points of view so well that I feel it would have been significantly less enjoyable having only one or the other throughout the entire book. But yes, this book was great. Would highly recommend for any fans of YA or a good romance without tons of sex.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful