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Publisher's Summary

Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.

©2012, 2014 Jeanne Miller (P)2017 Jeanne Miller

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Curt Simmons brings Dr. Koval to life!

If you could sum up Vacation in three words, what would they be?

Despair-Hope-Surrender

What other book might you compare Vacation to and why?

A man called Ove because despair and the absence of purpose when a beloved dies is REAL! and the persistence of Life and love - the hope that it brings saves us all!

What does Curt Simmons bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Curt expresses the doldrum pace of the life of Dr. Koval in the beginning using tempo and mirrors his rising from the ashes like a Phoenix - some dramatic flair you wouldn't know was in him! I enjoyed JC's writing and easy use of metaphors and similes to describe wonderful places like Puget Sound and the Cotswolds! I'll be looking out for more audible books narrated by Curt or written by JC Miller! I actually have a Dr. Koval withdrawal after listening to this novel!

If you could rename Vacation, what would you call it?

I would not change it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Started off great, then a little predictable

Dr. William Koval is a 40 year old widower. He loves his microscope and petri dishes, his life being pretty uncomplicated. However, a shadow glooms his life up a bit, his wife, Kathleen, having been killed by a mentally unstable man three years earlier. Now work forces him to take a vacation and he decides on a whim to sign up for an English walking tour, something him and his wife were planning to do before her untimely death. The walking tour brings him some closure and perhaps a new chance at happiness.

I have to say this isn’t my normal cup of tea but I was intrigued by the English walking tour and a still-grieving widower trying to say goodbye to his deceased wife and the life they had together. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The English walking tour has some bumps and burrs to it and that made it interesting. I was hoping for a touch more here and there. In fact, if the book had all been set in this English country walk, with rich history and some cultural tidbits tossed in, then I would have been very happy with the book. There were plenty of fun & interesting characters on the tour as well but we had to say goodbye to almost all of them when the tour ended.

Alas, the second half of the book is back in the states and is a pretty standard contemporary romance. Should he call her? Will she call him back? Can he get over his past? Will she forgive him? Can they come together over a shared travesty? Quite frankly, it was pretty boring to me. The first half is exciting and different and more than a simple romance. It had complexity. The second half lacked these traits.

The main characters themselves were interesting. William is a doctor, but not a people person nor does he seek glory in complicated surgeries or being a leading expert in some minute field of interest. He’s a practical, quiet man. Deciding to go off to England on a whim was so out of his norm and yet I could clearly see it was him trying to breath life back into this stagnant existence he was stuck in.

Annie Logan is a history buff and also hails from the Seattle area (same as William) and it’s one of those odd quirks that they meet in England. I liked that she was generally soft spoken but would hold her ground, politely but firmly, when she decided enough was enough. She had this trait not only in England but also back home on Vashon Island.

It turns out that Kathleen had a secret, one that William starts to put together on the English walking tour. Kathleen’s best friend, Liz, is now William’s best friend. It’s a friendship that has given them each much comfort, especially when William comes over for a homecooked meal with Liz’s family. I really liked how comfortable they were with each other and how their friendship kept the good parts of Kathleen’s memory alive.

So all told, this story had a solid start with a complex William in an unusual situation. The second half wasn’t my normal fare and while it bored me a bit, I had to know how things turned out for Annie and William. If contemporary romance is your thing, then I highly recommend this book. It has depth.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Curt Simmons was most excellent in this performance. I am truly impressed by his range of not only male & female voices but also his ability to capture nuanced emotions. He had the perfect voice for William, sounding as mild as milk initially and growing in complexity as learn more about William. His female voices were spot on. Each character was distinct and there were several accents for the English walking tour half of the book (Australian, French, British, etc.). He was a pleasure to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Book To Listen To More Than Once

What made the experience of listening to Vacation the most enjoyable?

It's a book that was sad a lot of the time. It had its up and down moments. But what was most enjoyable was going on vacation to England with our main character.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Since we see him for most of the book, and it's told from his point of view, I would say that it would be William. He's also someone that I can commiserate with.

What does Curt Simmons bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He was perfect for this book. He brought William's character to life. You could feel all of William's emotions as the story unfolds. Mr. Simmons also did a great job with the characters that had an accent.

If you could take any character from Vacation out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Since this is William's story. I would say William but now that he's found Annie I would want her there too. I'd want to know if they go back to England and what they would recommend I visit and where to stay. It would be a great way to catch up with them and find out what happens after this book ends.

Any additional comments?

This is a book that I could, in some ways, identify with. I could feel Williams' pain. Our pain is the same but different. His was from violence and mine was from old age. It was nice that at the end of the tunnel you can find love again. It's never easy but if you put in the time and sometimes persistence you can get your happily ever after.

If I had not been part of a tour for this book I might never have read/listened to it. This is one of those that you can't judge a book by its cover. It's one you need to take a chance on. There were times that I had tears in my eyes but that's a good thing. You need to let your emotions out - keeping them bottled up isn't a good thing. This was a pleasant way to help with that.

Like William I went on vacation too. But after listening to his story I almost wish that I had gone on a walking tour. It's a great way to meet new people and make lots of new friends. But that doesn't mean it won't happen - my bucket list just got a little longer. Will make sure to have this book with me when I go. It was also a great way to be introduced to a narrator and author that I have not experienced before. But will most definitely experience again.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Audio Copy of this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Loved listening to this engaging story.

I enjoyed the arc of the story and the development of the central character. His thoughts and speech, as well as the voices of those around him were well presented by Mr. Simmons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Great Story Well Told

I found this novel hard to stop listening to. JC's characters are true-to-life and the story moves along at a good clip so there is nary a dull moment. The narration by Simmons is a great match due to his masterful ability to bring the characters to life with the different and authentic accents of the travelers. I would recommend this book highly--it does not disappoint!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ready for a Walking Tour of the English Countryside!

I enjoyed listening to "Vacation" by CJ Miller immensely. The story may have been a bit predictable but it was still sweet and the characters were believable and so well done by narrator Curt Simmons.

One thing that really stood out and impressed me was the quality of his dialects. I'm so used to hearing the Australian accent mangled by Americans that I cringe at the thought. So, when the story required going from an Australian accent to an English accent, back and forth, back and forth, and then throw in a couple of French accents on top of that, it could have been a disaster! However, Simmons made the transitions seamlessly. Very impressive.

Simmons skilled, accomplished voice is easy to listen to and draws the listeners in, giving us a connection to the characters. I will be looking for more books narrated by Simmons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Despite my hesitation, it was an enjoyable journey

I have to admit that I was hesitant to begin this book simple because I had a preconceived sense that this was going to be a "chic-listen" of sorts. That being said, I really ended up enjoying the book as it was an easy listen. Vacation is an inspirational story of one man's vacation in the English countryside, that unexpectedly turns into a journey of self-discovery that will change the way he lives his life. The characters are well developed and the story-line is solid, yet it was rather apparent (to me at least) as to what direction this was going in . . . a truly redemptive ending. Nice, but one could see it coming well before the conclusion of the story. Perhaps because the basis of the story is one that has been told often.

The narration by Curt Simmons was superb and, in fact, is part of the reason that my overall rating was 4-stars. His rich descriptions of the various locales and that of the English countryside easily transports the listener into the story. For me, that was half the enjoyment of the book.

I would recommend this book to those looking for a relaxing listen about love, loss, acceptance, forgiveness, hope, friendship, and redemption. A review copy audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in return for this unbiased review. My hope is that this review helps in your decision to obtain this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A comfortable love story

Any additional comments?

In many ways, William is a stereotypical research physician but those close to him know he isn't coping well with the death of his wife; rather than moving on with his life, he's withdrawn and finds comfort in solitude. He would be content, if not happy, to be left alone but, fortunately for him, there are a few people who care enough about his wellbeing to force him to take a step forward.

A walking tour through the English countryside doesn't seem too onerous at first, even though William isn't used to this sort of thing or with spending time with a group of strangers, some of whom are intent on being chummy. Their Irish tour guide is a funny sort of guy who's suspiciously inept at this and a couple of his fellow walkers are a bit irritating. Still, it's only for a few days and William has to admit he's feeling a kind of relaxation he didn't expect. When a woman named Annie begins to touch his heart, he's unprepared and, at first, resistant and when he does let himself feel again, he and Annie come up against an unbearable barrier.

Vacation is what I call a love story rather than a romance because there's more depth to the feelings between these two and it seemed quite organic, if you will. The twist in the story bothered me some, first because I thought it was way too predictable but also because it just seems so unnecessary and I think tension could have been created in a less sensational manner. Despite that, I enjoyed this story a great deal.

A lot of my enjoyment came from the wonderful narration by Curt Simmons. I don't think I've heard him before but his voice is one of the best I've come across with his smooth, even tones that tell the story with distinct vocalizations and a comfortable quality that makes me want to keep listening. Ms. Miller wrote a really good story; Mr. Simmons brought William and all the other characters to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A chance meeting that leads to passion and forgive

Would you listen to Vacation again? Why?

Vacation is a story of Dr. William Koval, who feels imprisoned by grief and loss. After a forced vacation, William learns to have hope and love again. He does not realize that learning to love comes with hurt and above all acceptance and healing.

Vacation is a refreshing and well-written story. JC Miller really knows how to build up the suspense and tension and keep your attention to the very end. The characters are well developed and engaging. The story has just enough description that you can picture you are there in the moment. This story has many lessons to be learned and is an inspiration to all.

What about Curt Simmons’s performance did you like?

Curt Simmons did an excellent job with the narration. He had a crisp and clear voice that was a pleasure to listen to and easy to follow. Mr. Simmons did a fantastic job with the different characters’ voices.

Any additional comments?

This is the first book that I have read by JC Miller. I recommend Vacation to anyone that enjoys a quick read that is full of romance, grief, hope, and humor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Delightful Story!

I so enjoyed listening to this book. The premise of going on a walking tour of England sounds so delightful and relaxing, along with being picturesque. (My mother has done it twice) so the imagery brought back many memories. I loved the twists that the author spun into this book as well. The main character was awkward and likable. I thought it was great how the book came full circle for the good doctor. My review is not a synopsis of the book, but rather my opinion of it. I was provided with this review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful