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  • Luna and the Lie

  • By: Mariana Zapata
  • Narrated by: Callie Dalton, Gomez Pugh
  • Length: 17 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 637
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 600
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 601

Luna Allen has done some things she would rather no one ever know about. She also knows that, if she could go back in time, she wouldn’t change a single thing. With three sisters she loves, a job she (mostly) adores, and a family built up of friends she’s made over the years, Luna figures everything has worked out the way it was supposed to. But when one of those secrets involves the man who signs her paycheck, she can’t find it in her to regret it. Despite the fact that he’s not the friendliest man in the world. Or the most patient.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 😭

  • By JM Saenz on 04-20-19

Triggered

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

Reviewed: 05-18-19

I like Zapata's ruministic style of writing, but this story was a miss for me. The two main characters participate in some highly dysfunctional behavior, then try to rationalize that behavior in a way that perpetuates it, rather than identifying it as manipulative and destructive.

It's not unrealistic, for the most part. Thus, two stars.

However, the realism doesn't really add to the overall value of the story. Yes, people who grow up in dysfunctional families tend to act like this. But... this story acts as validation for the resulting abusive behavior in the victims, and I just can't feel supportive of it.

Luna and Rip don't give each other what they say they need. Instead, they insist multiple times that their partner has no idea what they actually need in a way that denies them their experiences, feelings, and perspectives.

Sometimes, it's true that people don't see what they need. But to force your help on someone without regard for their wants, or to keep pushing someone when they're in a vulnerable state until they are provoked into a response, to harbor resentments without ever actually stepping up and communicating what hurts you, to use verbal "traps" over and over to set yourself up for a claim to victimhood, to completely disrespect someone's request for space, to forgive a pattern of behavior that is absolutely negative without any clear indication that a person has developed beyond their knee-jerk unhealthy reactions or has identified a flaw in their belief system....

No. Just no.

So, with 45 minutes left on the book, I've decided that I no longer care about this couple. I can see them heading into a cycle of psychological/emotional abuse, and I'm not about all that.

The real lie of this story is the happy ending I see looming. Luna is still a victim. She seems to want to stay that way. I think the most disturbing part of this whole book for me is how it celebrates Luna's lack of insight. And because I was so intolerant of the dysfunctional aspects of her behavior, the constant rationalization really started to grate on my nerves. Make no mistake, she's the person that should be apologizing for her behavior throughout most of this story - - a sincere appology, not one that just sets her up to make demands of others from the role of victim, or that sets her up to be coddled and gain attention.

Also, having the male narrator only voice part of the main male character's speaking lines has some weird rhetorical effects. It accentuated some saccharine phrases in a way that crossed over into sappy territory, and it really highlighted some unrealistic dialogue.

Hopefully, Zapata's next book won't be such a trigger for me. If you have a history of abuse in your life, you may want to be wary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dragon Marked

  • By: Jaymin Eve
  • Narrated by: Dara Rosenberg
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,427
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,240
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,247

Revised edition: This edition of Dragon Marked includes editorial revisions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Fun Read

  • By S. Shelton on 08-13-16

Meh

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-22-17

This book seems like a very obvious first novel. Situations are ridiculous, reactions are illogical, and a lot of times people or situations exist merely as devices for the author to shove her version of romance down the reader's throats or else to *tell* the reader how conceited and entitled the main character is.

One example: the boys are imprisoned but beat up/scare a guard into revealing the location of the entrance--something which is supposed to be impossible due to a magical oath. They also took the time to bully out the scheduled shift changes. Everything about this scenario is ridiculous to me.

The book was mildly entertaining until it got the the prison fiasco, and then the ludicrous stuff just became too much to bare. Even the narrator sounds impatient with the constant embracing and silly scenarios. Got to the last two hours and DNF.

  • Trickery

  • Curse of the Gods, Book 1
  • By: Jaymin Eve, Jane Washington
  • Narrated by: Vanessa Moyen
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,344
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,100
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,093

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods. At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won't ever be forced to present herself to them... Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world - a position that she definitely did not earn.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WHAT WAS THAT!!!!

  • By Sarah on 06-27-17

Entertaining

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

Reviewed: 07-16-17

First, this is the kind of story where the plot devices are paper thin--you can see right through all of the "mysteries" and I'm pretty sure I know what is going to happen in the next couple of books.

Normally this bothers me, but I really enjoyed the main character's voice, both from the author and the narrator. I think it has to do with the undying good humor through which she viewed everything--there was no whining or self-conceit to Willa's character. She kind of perked me up! And the narrator did a good job of conveying this attitude.

I would consider this a romance novel without the sex. There's talk of nakedness and kissing, and some swearing. Probably a PG-13 kind of book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

  • By: Mariana Zapata
  • Narrated by: Callie Dalton
  • Length: 16 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,129
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,844
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,848

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans, and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good slow burn

  • By catkit on 09-30-16

Zapata Just Gets Better

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

Reviewed: 11-25-16

I completely glutted myself on Zapata's stories this past week. Sleep? Nope! Human interaction? Hell no! This is the first time I've been grateful to have a job that allows me to listen to audiobooks 24/7 if I want.

You have probably already heard that Zapata is one of the best "slow burn" romance authors out there. It's true. If you are looking for a book with minimal sexy time, this is a good pick. For example, if you want to listen at work without having to suddenly sprint to the bathroom like you have the runs so you can fast forward through the sex parts, this is a good one. Naked time happens around the 90% mark.

Content-wise for picky listeners, before the final two-ish hours there is casual swearing and appreciation for physical bits, but nothing that would cause me to blush if my volume was up a smidge too loud and my supervisor walked by. This book avoids the creepy, abusive attitudes found in many romantic books (even in Under Locke), but does discuss physical abuse, child neglect, and alcoholism.

Now, what makes Zapata's books so great? Well, for starters, she's HILARIOUS. The woman has a way of writing internal dialogue full of zingers without being mean or petty or forced. Her characters are all individuals, too; developed fully with unique childhoods, personalities, and quirks. Even her side characters are fleshed out! It's. Awesome. The best thing about Zapata's work, though, is how her characters remain true to their personalities throughout the romance. Real love inspires people to be a little kinder, a little gentler, and a little more patient version of themselves, and that's how she writes them.

In this story, Vanessa agrees to a contractual marriage with her old boss when he asks her to help him stay in the US for his career in return for money--lots of money. She moves in with Aiden and his roommate, professional football players, and it manages to avoid any traditional cliched romantic scenarios. Well, okay, there are a *few* well-used scenarios, but they're funny, cute, and somehow still fresh.

Vanessa was great--firm, determined, and compassionate. She has a complicated family, and there are not many supporting female characters (unusual for the author) because her best friend lives far away and has her own messy life. There are loose ends that never get resolved--fights that don't get smoothed over and life that goes on. Not everything ends in a perfect, neat little bow.

Callie Dalton has really great voices for dialogue. I would prefer if she used more of that variety with the narrative, which gets a little too neutral and ... recitation-like? If that makes sense. I do really like the way I can hear the smile in her voice, and the occasional teary hitch. She's got a snappy way of presenting the humor, and overall fits the story well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Ancient Magic

  • Dragon's Gift: The Huntress, Book 1
  • By: Linsey Hall
  • Narrated by: Laurel Schroeder
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 473
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 429
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 434

Cass Clereaux is good at two things: finding treasure and killing demons. Lying low is a close third - but not because she wants to be good at hiding. Cass is a FireSoul, one of the unlucky few to inherit a piece of a dragon's soul. On the surface, the perks are sweet - she has the power to find and steal any type of magical treasure, including the powers of other supernaturals. But it doesn't come without a price; stealing powers requires that she kill, and others would destroy her if they discover what she is.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I want more! Great Series Starter

  • By Lisarami on 08-09-16

Flat Characters, Poor Writing

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-22-16

From the opening chapter, I could tell this book was going to be a bother. I got 3/4 through and DNF.

It starts off with three teenaged women (magical and potentially deadly) waking up in a field near each other with no memories of themselves.

In the intro alone, there was SO MUCH TELLING. The author really needs to take more writing workshops or creative writing classes and learn to show her story. I read on, hoping she was just a terrible editor and the later chapters would show more development.

They didn't. The Telling continues to an absurd degree: "I was afraid" vs "My nerves were wound so tight, I almost leapt over the railing of the ship when Aidan's hand came down on my shoulder."

Speaking of Aidan ... He's an absurd character. Super rich, super handsome, super powerful, super polite, super ... flat. Where are the imperfections and restrictions? Why does the MC throw around words like "falling for him" and "liked him a lot" when "Let's check those rocks over there!" is the extent of their interactions?

In fact, why can't she just acknowledge once that he's hot and shut the hell up about it and go do her job to make sure she and her sisters stay free of the "mysterious" evil they escaped ten years before? 50% of this book is just repeats of "He's hot" and "He smells so good!" <<<<< Literally! No showing!

If you combined the TV shows Charmed and Birds of Prey, you'd probably end up with something that feels like this book. I recommend you skip and maybe try a later series by the author when she has had time to develop more.

12 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Lumière

  • The Illumination Paradox, Book 1
  • By: Jacqueline Garlick
  • Narrated by: Sarah Coomes
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 13

Seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth has only one hope left: to find her late father's most prized invention, the Illuminator. It's been missing since the day a mysterious flash wiped the sun from the sky. Living in darkness is nothing new to Eyelet. She's hidden her secret affliction all of her life—a life that would be in danger if superstitious townspeople ever guessed the truth. Orphaned when her mother is executed for a crime she did not commit, Eyelet sets out to track down the machine—her one and only chance at a cure.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Decent YA, Irritating Pacing

  • By Kindle Customer on 03-28-16

Decent YA, Irritating Pacing

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

Reviewed: 03-28-16

I initially read this book, not listened to it, and bought the audiobook version because I thought it was so entertaining. This is one case where the audiobook was not better for me than reading.

It's all to do with the pacing of the narration. There's long pauses, and the reading speed is excruciatingly slow or words are drawn out liiiikkkkeee thiiiiiiisssss (an effect used often). This is distressing because the narrator actually has some pretty great voices. She can speed up at some points, and it is good when this happens.

Anyway, I think if they just re-edited the audiobook so that it was a consistent reading speed, it would be fine.

If this sort of thing doesn't bother you, I recommend you check this book out. It's got a grungy-carny vibe going on that is absolutely unique. Or, if you read, you might give the print version a shot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Goosebumps HorrorLand #4

  • The Scream of the Haunted Mask
  • By: R.L. Stine
  • Narrated by: Kate Simses
  • Length: 2 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 55

What should Carly Beth be for Halloween this year? TERRIFIED! Late at night, an ugly green mask is mysteriously calling out to her, and ugly green masks don't like to be ignored. If Carly Beth survives the night, even a scary theme park might sound like a vacation. Or maybe not! At HorrorLand, every night is Halloween. And those monster masks? They aren't masks at all.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • First Dud in the Series

  • By Kindle Customer on 02-23-15

First Dud in the Series

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

Reviewed: 02-23-15

(Note)
These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

(About This Story)
Scream of the Haunted Mask is a sequel to The Haunted Mask, and this book assumes that you have already read the predecessor. Unfortunately, they do not give you very much details about what happened in The Haunted Mask--but I will: Carly Beth is bullied by two boys at school. She decides the perfect way to get back at them involves a scary Halloween mask, which she steals from a local shop. The mask has a mind of its own, however, and plans to take over Carly Beth's body. During Halloween, the mask takes over Carly Beth while she's out trick or treating with her best friend, Sabrina. In the end, she manages to defeat it by weakening it with a symbol of love.

In this story, Carly Beth has apparently kept the mask locked in the basement to keep others safe from it. Unfortunately, she can still hear its screams in her head. In the meantime, she works after school watching young children at a nearby farm and learns that the stables there are haunted. Whoever is haunting the stables appears to want the mask. Can Carly Beth stop it once and for all?

(Kid's Reaction)
My kid and I were both horribly confused with this story. Carly Beth talks about previous events that happened to her, but rather than being mysterious or peaking our interest, we both felt out of the loop--like when you've missed the first half of someone's conversation. We didn't know why she had this mask, what horrible events she had experienced with it, or what terrible powers it had.

Despite the lack of information, my stepdaughter liked the idea of working in stables and a daycare and thought the ghost story was neat. She gives a 3.5/5, but probably will never listen to it again.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Goosebumps HorrorLand #3

  • Monster Blood for Breakfast!
  • By: R.L. Stine
  • Narrated by: Charlie McWade
  • Length: 2 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 68
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 54

For an athlete like Matt Daniels, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's also the most dangerous. That's because somebody is about to pull a mean prank. The recipe is simple: Just add Monster Blood. As if Matt's problems weren't big and slimy enough, a surprise invitation will lead to even more trouble. How long can Matt survive inside a terrifying theme park? Not very long if his friends keep disappearing!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • my rview

  • By Lisa on 09-29-08

The Decline Starts

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

Reviewed: 02-21-15

(Note)
These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

(About This Story)
Matt is a popular kid on the swim team at school with a neighbor, Bradley, that he dislikes immensely. Bradley gets carte blanche at his house because Matt's mother feels sorry for him, and Bradley takes advantage of this by eating all the food, wearing Matt's favorite clothes, and using Matt's computer without asking. Matt does not take any of this well. Bradley and he fight a few times at school, and ultimately Matt is tricked into eating some Monster Blood, which makes him grow when he touches water. At first, he thinks it's cool--he can swim faster and is super strong. But soon, he realizes that he can't stop the effects and is growing out of control.

Monster Blood was a feature in the old Goosebumps series, spawning four other books about a completely different character. I remember reading Monster Blood and Monster Blood II, and in both stories the monster blood affected animals (a small dog and a hamster). I think this story would have been more successful if it had returned to that theme rather than showcasing a kid that grows into a Hulk-like creature.

(Kid's Reaction)
Unfortunately, this book is the beginning of a brief downward spiral in the Horrorland series. It was a weird story, but in no way scary or exciting. I believe my kid didn't like it as much because the focus was always on how annoying Bradley was or how much the adults were oblivious to what was going on--which is fine when it comes to supernatural events but very frustrating when it comes to normal, everyday interactions amongst kids. My stepdaughter commented several times, "Why won't the adults believe him?" and got annoyed. Also, there are some logic inconsistencies. For example, why doesn't Matt's plants return to normal? Even my 11-year-old wondered about that one. She gives this book 3.5/5 stars--worth listening to once (and only once).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Goosebumps HorrorLand #2

  • Creep from the Deep
  • By: R. L. Stine
  • Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
  • Length: 2 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 87
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 69

Billy and Sheena always expect adventure when they join their uncle, Dr. Deep, aboard his hi-tech boat. What they don't expect is a treasure hunt leading to a 200-year-old sea captain...who refuses to stay dead!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Fun!

  • By Kindle Customer on 02-21-15

Great Fun!

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

Reviewed: 02-21-15

(Note)
These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

(About This Story)
In the second of the Horrorland series, Creep from the Deep, Billy and his sister Sheena are visiting their uncle, Dr. Deep, a marine biologist with a mini-submarine and (unrealistically) no staff to speak of. The uncle is looking for a sunken pirate ship and has invited his nephew and niece along for the summer. They end up on a deserted island running from zombie pirates, who have what is probably my favorite chant from any of the books: "You ended our death. You ended our sleep. The men come alive in the briny deep. So come with us, come with the men. And meet your fate with Captain Ben."

This story was less "scary" than Revenge of the Living Dummy, but it also had a more exotic and refreshing backdrop with the ocean/desert island set-up. The characters from this story were present in the old Goosebumps books Deep Trouble I & II, but in reality Creep from the Deep is a complete revision of the siblings' story. It's well done--neither my husband, stepdaughter, nor I thought there was any missing background information or disjointed narrative. There is also more of a focus on family working together against the enemy and less petty in-fighting than in the previous novel, which we appreciated.

(Kid's Reaction)
My stepdaughter loved the chant by the zombie pirates, too, and has since made up her own chant for when we go swimming. I don't think this story is her favorite--she tends to prefer the book narrated by girls--but I do think it's her favorite male-narrated story so far (we're on book 9). She gives it 4.5/5.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Goosebumps HorrorLand, Book 1

  • Revenge of the Living Dummy
  • By: R. L. Stine
  • Narrated by: Alissa Hunnicutt
  • Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 174

Britney Crosby thinks her cousin Ethan is pretty weird - and she happens to be right. Ethan won't stop tormenting Britney with an old ventriloquist's dummy. And the puppet has plans for Britney, too!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This audio book brought me in to Goosebumps.

  • By Kindle Customer on 04-24-16

Worth the Listen

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

Reviewed: 02-21-15

(Note)
These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is the first in a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

(About This Story)
Revenge of the Living Dummy starts off with a great hook: two scared girls are digging up a grave in a cemetery during a dark thunder storm. You don't know why. Britney, the main narrator, takes the listener back a few weeks to the arrival of her cousin, Ethan, and his ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Badboy.

If you read any of the R. L. Stine books as a kid in the 90s (I did), you may remember Slappy from the Night of the Living Dummy books. Mr. Badboy is basically the same dummy. In this book, he makes trouble for Britney and her friend Molly much in the same way Slappy used to--pranks, jokes, and petty vandalism. How will they rid themselves of this menace?

(Kid's Reaction)
My stepdaughter, 11, was bouncing in her seat and crying out before the first chapter had even finished. She quoted the book for a week straight (most have a chant or single line of speech that is repeated like a catch phrase) and requested to listen to the story every time we got into the car. Because we visit the local amusement park during Halloween, she loved the idea of Horrorland and is even more excited to go this year. All in all, she rates this book a solid 5/5 stars.

(Adult's Reaction)
My husband isn't as much of a fan of these books as I am. He rolls his eyes at the childish thrills and dramatic situations, which aren't that intense as an adult, I admit. However, I find the books to be charming, fun, and easily the most entertaining audiobooks we've found for my stepdaughter. They inspire her imagination and add a level of thrill to the dark that she enjoys.

The appropriate age-level for these books will vary depending on your individual child. There is no swearing or death, but there are some mildly inappropriate situations (taunting, pranking, sneaking out of the house, vandalism, stealing parents' property, etc). If anything, it's a good conversation-starter between parents and kids about acceptable behaviors.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful