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Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Paranormal
All Aubrey Ellis wants is a normal life, one that doesn't include desperate pleas from the dead. Her remarkable gift may help others rest in peace, but it also made for an unsettling childhood and destroyed her marriage. Finally content as the real estate writer for a local newspaper, Aubrey keeps her extraordinary ability hidden - until she is unexpectedly assigned the story of a decades-old murder.
Rocked by the discovery of a young woman's skeletal remains, the New England town of Surrey wants answers. Hard-nosed investigative reporter Levi St John is determined to get them. Aubrey has no choice but to get involved, even at the terrifying risk of stirring spirits connected to a dead woman's demise and piquing her new reporting partner's suspicions.
As Aubrey and Levi delve further into the mystery, secrets are revealed and passion ignites. It seems that Aubrey's ghost gifts are poised to deliver everything but a normal life.
This book is labeled as romantic suspense. That is absolutely NOT true. Levi (Hate that name), the hero, and Aubrey, the heroine, have been together since almost the beginning of the book and there is absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, no thoughts or feeling, no nothing. Heck, they didn’t even kiss until 75% and there still weren’t any feelings involved. So, here we have another author whose publisher tells her “sex sells” so she drops a sex scene in here and there and calls it romantic. Like the sex between Missy and Dustin was just ridiculous, she’s 20 and he’s 46 and she’s been doing “it” with him since she was 16? Eww. And THEN she went to Frank’s apartment after she finished with Dustin and did “it” with Frank, too. Eww again. Nothing romantic about that. And there was nothing romantic about Levi and Aubrey’s sexual encounter either, at 88% of the book. If there’s NOTHING that leads up to the sex then the sex is not worth having in the book. LMAO, one reviewer on Amazon said this: “I think this book tried to incorporate just a bit of "50 Shades." You’re freaking kidding me, right? I don’t think this reviewer read this book at all. The sex between Missy and Dustin lasted about 2 sentences, in his truck. And between her and Frank it lasted about a page of two pages, without any real description, and the sex between Aubrey and Levi lasted a few pages and it was sooo vanilla it wasn’t worth reading. How is that anything like 50 Shades?
Now, I’ll tell you something I find amazing! One reviewer mentioned how many times Aubrey’s name was used in the first 2 or 3 chapters. In actuality, in this 386 page book Aubrey’s name was used 1,338 times, according to my iPad. That’s a little much, if you ask me. Levi was only used 926 times. Good grief!
Overall, I will admit this was a pretty good mystery. I had an idea, about half way through, who did it but the reader didn’t find out who did it until very late in the book. What was nice about this book was that it wasn’t based on just one spooky story. I thought the one that had to do with Levi and Brody was so good and so sad. And what happened to Frank was unbelievable. The author wrote Dustin as somewhat of an idiot, and that fit with his character. And, of course, poor, poor Missy!
As to the narration: Nicol Zanzarella was barely OK for me. Her men didn’t sound like men and that’s really a bad thing. She did read with some emotion but when your men sound feminine the emotions don’t make up for it. I could not recommend this audible book and I will not be listening to this narrator again. She was very disappointing.
65 of 74 people found this review helpful
This book just never really "gelled" for me. I finished it, but it was a near thing. It's a new take on the well-established "I see dead people" genre -- and not a particularly refreshing one. Long on character development, short on actual plot.
The narrator did a nice job, considering the material.
37 of 42 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Ghost Gifts the most enjoyable?
Very engrossing story, ghosts, mysteries with just a little bit of romance. This one I will listen to again for sure.<br/> I tend to enjoy books about ghost encounters, but this one was different than others I've listen to, making this even more enjoyable.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Aubrey, Eli and Charlie
Have you listened to any of Nicol Zanzarella’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Never listened to Nicol Zanzarella before and thought she did an average job. Her cadence reminded me of Tonya Eby, she does a pretty good job with women's voices, but not a lot of differentiating between the women's voices and this was even more so with the male voices. However her voice was not distracting from the story.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I was not able to listen to this book in one sitting, I started it one day and finished at the next. Once I started listening it was very hard to stop
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
Sorry but I just couldn't see past the juvenile aspects of this audio book.
I really do not like narrators using children's voices.
The back and forth, going nowhere conversation and the harlequin romance is not my cup of tea.
3 stars because it had a few good parts. What could have been but was not.
25 of 30 people found this review helpful
It sounded great. It was NOT great. It was dull. I couldn't get excited about anything and gave up after about an hour. I do not have time to waste on boring books. I read a LOT -- and I don't love everything, but this was seriously flat and dull.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
STORY (mystery) - I usually steer away from books with supernatural characters or powers, finding them too far-fetched or silly. This book managed to catch my eye, and I'm so very glad it did. It has a little bit of everything, as the publisher's summary implies. I was gripped from the very beginning about the mystery of the dead girl, and I wasn't able to figure things out before they were revealed in the end. (Love it when that happens!) Aubrey's gift of communicating with the dead is handled tastefully so as to be fairly believable. The book moves at a nice pace, revealing things bit by delicious bit, and isn't complicated to follow. The small romantic thread running through the story is an added bonus. Perfection.
PERFORMANCE - The reader did a very good job, though I'm only giving her four stars because I've heard better.
OVERALL - This book has one fairly short, non-explicit sex scene. There is a bit of cursing, but not a lot. The story is about a dead girl's body who is found 20-some years later, but I didn't find anything gross or grisly about any descriptions in this book. Highly recommended, particularly for females.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
This is a good one for me. Wow!! It's a fab mystery and I love stories where someone has a special gift. This is a mystery with a little bit of romance, which, if you follow my reviews, you will see is a bit of a change for me. Haha. It's certainly one that kept me guessing for most of the story. I did figure it out before we are told, but it certainly didn't make the story any less intriguing. Characters are well defined and narrator did a great job!!
Def one I'll remember for a while. And recommend if you want a good mystery.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Fantastic, well written, amazing narration, kept you intrigued though out the entire story. The characters are likable and strong, and carry throughout hope, fear, and intrigue.
11 of 14 people found this review helpful
I really liked the first half of the book but the second half kind of droned on. I felt like the first half set the story up to have so much potential and then it turned into a basic, predictable ending. Oh well. Somewhat enjoyable still.
7 of 9 people found this review helpful
I can't say enough about this story. Wow. This is a must "read/listen". Incredibly unique, balanced, intriguing, suspenseful, endearing, romantic (but not too much) and heart wrenching. I enjoyed getting to know and growing with the characters. Very well-developed, and believable.
The narrator did a great job. There were some voice nuances that wore on my nerves but it to such a distraction that I couldn't block it out and stay into the story. The narrators voice goes this dreamy, breathless, weak woman thing that bugged me. Very soap opera-y. Made some of the conversations less believable but really I'm being overly critical. If it had been that bad I would not have made it however many hours through the book.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is a murder mystery, with paranormal and romance thrown into the mix very skilfully.
The h has, from an early age, struggled to cope with her “gift” which comes in various ways, but centres around communications from the dead – and not always friendly communications. This “gift” was inherited from her father, who never managed to fully cope with the way it affected his life and, along with her mother, died in questionable circumstances (Suicide? Murder/Suicide?). Quite an emotional burden for a young girl, who was subsequently raised by an understanding grandmother in a travelling circus, where she was happy, but yearned to be “normal”.
Now settled in a small town, fighting for a reconciliation with her husband after a year of separation (which was prompted by disclosure of her “gift”), the h is reluctantly coerced into working alongside stubborn, cynical and definitely pragmatic journalist H, to investigate a 20 year old murder mystery. The H has a long term girlfriend in a long distance relationship which, on the surface, he is quite happy with.
As the two progress with the murder investigation, the h is side tracked by a ghostly message for the H, who is, to say the least, not exactly receptive to the concept. This story entwines with other revelations of her gift, the struggle of both their dying relationships, the development of their romance and the investigation of the 20 year old murder. The plot is revealed gradually, mainly in a series of long and detailed flashbacks which, I have to admit, I really dislike in written work, but somehow don’t mind in audible versions (illogical, I know!). It is told from multiple points of view, including that of the murder victim, who, ironically, never appears in ghostly form to the h to easily solve the mystery. In fact out of all the ghostly presences, the victim is conspicuous in her notable absence for most of the book.
This was a very slow burn romance as the couple’s respective other relationships took some time to end, and they both gradually grew from initial reluctant tolerance of each other, to mutual acceptance. One of the most beautiful aspects of their growing relationship was the realisation that, after his initial strong cynicism and disbelief, the H turns into the h’s strongest supporter in her attempts to cope with her gift. His unwavering acknowledgment and acceptance of who she is, makes this a very special romance, and one that, at the end of the book, seemed extraordinarily strong, considering its shaky beginnings.
One other really good feature of this book was the amount of “red herrings” in the search to find the murderer. The reader had to deal with the uncovering revelations along with the H and h, and I am pleased to admit that although I suspected the identity of the murderer, I really only had my suspicions confirmed at the very end.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A complex and moving story, beautifully narrated. No stock characters or pre set plot line.
The narrator is particularly skilful, conveying perfectly the underlying melancholy of the book, and adapting the pace of reading to the plot. She was particularly good at the male voices (many narrators struggle with conveying characters of the opposite sex) and added to the depth of the story.
I will definitely look for more books by the author, particularly with the same narrator.
Brill. Lovely twist couldn't let go until the end a definite November must read , would definitely recommend
What did you like most about Ghost Gifts?
I still didn't guess how it would end, good twist at the end that had me hooked
Which scene did you most enjoy?
Most of the scenes when the main character was having 'experiences' made for an interesting listen
Any additional comments?
I enjoyed this book, it did have a few moments of drifting slightly but in essence the story was good and the twists and layout kept my hooked and interested.<br/>It was a good book to listen to whilst walking!
not much to say except it drones a bit - no it drones a lot! Nothing is said in many many words and many many hours. I have not finished it and doubt I will. It got very predictable and i totally lost interest in the people - did they live, did they die - do I care. I could not even give you a summary of the plot as I can't remember it - I was that engaged! Some books just don't translate to audio - maybe this is one of them
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Not to listen to.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
Couldn't listen to it so didn't get into the story
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Nicol Zanzarella?
Don't know, but her voice grates on the ears. Just couldn't listen to it.
Was Ghost Gifts worth the listening time?
Couldn't listen to it.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Found I was struggling to listen to this. I didn't find it enjoyable at all. Definitely not my cup of tea but may be for others. Felt like returning it the majority of the way through.
The story had me hooked right from the start! I listen in my car and on more than one occasion, I ended up listening after I arrived at my destination!