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Audiobook Review – The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society – Darien Gee

avalon ladiesThe Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Author: Darien Gee

Narrator: Tanya Eby
Run Time: 14hrs and 16 minutes
Producer: Tantor Audio

Review Copy of Audiobook Provided from Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243

At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.

Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.

Review:
I’m really conflicted over my review for this book. I really enjoyed the premise behind the story and the story itself, but I really struggled with the writing style. There was something cozy about getting to know the citizens of Avalon, Illinois (although, I was kind of bummed to see that it wasn’t a real town because I wanted to pick up and move there). Darien Gee did a great job in developing her characters – I felt like I had grown up with them, that I was a citizen of the town.

But at the same time, I really struggled with the writing style. Specifically, that it was written in this weird third person, present tense – and it felt awkward. My editor in my brain wanted me to go through with a red pen and either put it in first person, alternating POV or third person, past tense. My other issue was that at the same time, while I loved the wide variety of characters, a few times there were too many…I wish that she had stuck to the main women – there were a few cameos where someone was introduced and then nothing was ever mentioned about them again…it kind of felt disjointed and missing something. I would also caution that if you haven’t read Friendship Bread, that you might feel like you are missing something – I know that I haven’t and there were a few places where I was scratching my head.

I also strugged a few places with the narration. I don’t know if its because I’ve been spoiled recently by multiple narrators in audiobooks, but I wanted more. This would have been, (IMHO) a great opportunity for a multiple narrator book – with each main character having a different person narrate it. My mind just wasn’t transiting well between the voice for Betty (a 70 year old woman) and Ava (a mid-20’s young woman) to Isabelle (early 40’s)…but I will admit that it could got better as the narration progressed – so maybe it was just a matter of re-accustoming my ears to a single narrator. It would probably also good that there were limited male voices and those that there were, were mostly cameos – there were no main male characters.

Overall, I gave the writing/story 2 stars (mainly due to my struggles with the writing style used) and the narration 3 stars, so 2.5 stars overall. Which is kind of disappointing because I thought it had so much potential (maybe I had hyped it up to myself a bit too much…)

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Silent Girl – Tess Gerritsen

the silent girlThe Silent Girl
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: #9 in the Rizzoli and Isles series

Narrator: Tanya Eby
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Description:
Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston’s Chinatown will do both.

In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair—not human—cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.

Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.

Review:
I was conflicted going into my listen of this. It is one of the few audiobooks that I have started and then got distracted before continuing (mostly because I had a bad case of BSN disease – bright shiny new). So when I went back to the Silent Girl, I wasn’t sure what my overall opinion of it was going to be. Added to that, I had read a blog post by the author (or something on her website) where she talked about complaints from readers about this being similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I loved)…but it took me a long while to figure out the similarities – so to me it wasn’t that obvious.

This is one of the books in the series that I really struggled about how I felt – I did like the mystery and the solving of the crime – but it hasn’t had the same relationship between Jane and Maura that was so prevalent in previous books – which was part of the reason why I enjoyed the series. And it wasn’t similar to Ice Cold, the previous book in the series, where Jane and Maura were literally cross-country from each other – this time it was a matter of personalities, beliefs, job roles…I admire Maura for standing by her beliefs – she is definately no shades of grey kind of person – it is either right or wrong – this is one of the first times that I have been disappointed in Jane as a character – I guess after 8 books, I expected more of her (lol – I can’t believe I am talking like she is a real character).

The mystery was fulfilling – I had my normal jumping back and forth trying to figure out who did it and who “The Silent Girl” really was – it wasn’t who I thought that it was originally. I did figure it out maybe about 2/3’s of the way through. I’ll be interested to see if any of these characters make an appearance in later books – I was sufficiently intrigued by the character development.

I have to admit that Tanya Eby’s narration is growing on me – I wasn’t so sure if I truely enjoyed her narration – but I did like this one. I hadn’t noticed any of the issues that I had with her narration of Ice Cold (what seemed to be a slight lisp and an irksome narration for Jane’s voice). In fact, by the end of it, I was really getting into the narration and enjoying it. It was also nice to see that she is narrating the next book in the series (after the series has played musical narrators for a good portion of it)…

Overall, a good addition to the series – not my favorite one, but an improvement over Ice Cold which I just didn’t enjoy…3.5 stars overall

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Ice Cold – Tess Gerritsen

Ice Cold
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: #8 in the Rizzoli and Isles series

Narrator: Tanya Eby
Run Time: 9 hrs 51 minutes
Producer: Brilliance Audio

Book Description:
In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they’re stranded with no help in sight.

As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town’s previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness—someone who is watching Maura and her friends.

Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless—and the chilling truth about Maura’s fate.

Review
I figure after greatly enjoying the last few books in the series, I was about due for a dud. But even saying that, Ms Gerritsen’s dud’s are still better than a good majority of other fiction out there (oh the irony). I can’t even really describe what it was about this one that made it only ehhh for me – I think it was because I had pretty much figured out the who done it early-ish in the book (like not long after the introduction of said character). I also think that it might be the fact that one of the things I love the best about the series is the interaction between Jane and Maura and that was decidedly lacking in this series as they spent 90% of the series separated by several thousand miles. It made me realize how much Jane is the dominant character in the series – while Maura has this quiet strength and perseverance, which was highlighted in this book – Jane is like the gun powder – explosive and on the go. Which is what I prefer – maybe because she is opposite to me – I definitely identify more with Maura than with Jane, which is why I like reading about Jane’s antics. The one interesting thing for me in this book was how various cult’s and the development of Cult’s were discussed. It made me want to read more about some of the ones that have become famous in history (Jonestown specifically), so I am on the look-out for books (if anyone has any ideas – let me know).

Going into the narration, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Tanya Eby’s work. I had heard a few negative reviews about some of her work and I was a bit worried – but I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t say that this was my favorite narration ever, because its not, and it definately wasn’t my favorite of the series (Anna Fields has that spot all tied up), but it was enjoyable. One of the comments other listeners had made was on a lisp – but I didn’t hear anything that wasn’t easily gotten used to in listening. However, I wasn’t a fan of how Jane sounded in her parts – she didn’t have the Boston Irish accent that I had gotten used to in previous narrations, so that was lacking. However, I didn’t mind her narration of Jane and thought that she did a pretty good job with the narration of the various males voices that occurred through-out.

Overall, I would give both the book and the narration 3 stars. I liked it, but didn’t love it. It will be interesting to see how I enjoy the narration in future books, as it appears that Tanya Eby may become the primarily narrator (she has done the two most recent books).

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Audiobook Review

 

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