Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Audiobook Review – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

April 22, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 1st 2013
Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

THE ART OF LOVE IS NEVER A SCIENCE

MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who's decided it's time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion's distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

“If you really love someone […] you have to be prepared to accept them as they are. Maybe you hope that one day they get a wake-up call and make the changes for their own reasons.”

Don Tillman is a socially awkward and emotionally challenged individual that decides one day it is well past time he find himself a wife. Approaching this situation (as he does everything in his life) in an organized and scientific based manner, he develops a survey in hopes to weed out the most incompatible. Rosie Jarman is sarcastic and free-spirited and despite the fact that she was deemed incompatible by the survey, the duo form an unlikely relationship when they team up to find Rosie’s biological father.

Heyyyy. Check me and my 2-star rating out. I’m clearly the black sheep of the crowd because everyone seems to adore this book.

I’d like to attribute my lack of love for this book by the circumstances of the moment as I was feeling far too cynical but I’m not sure if that’s completely the case. There’s a soft squishy part of my heart that likes the idea of love conquering all but the rational part always overcomes. Especially with this story. Don doesn’t realize he has Asperger’s syndrome, but everyone else in his life does. He leads an uncompromising life full of schedules and deadlines, despises time wasting situations and has a terrible time handling physical contact of any sort (as if the fact that he’s trying to search out his future wife via a survey didn’t make that abundantly clear).

I am extremely socially inept and should have been able to relate to Dan. I think where they lost me is the author’s attempt to slap an unnecessary designation on his lack of social graces. Is the belief that he would not have been as funny or charming if there wasn’t a scientific justification behind his excessive awkwardness? His lack of social skills could have simply been a quirky part of his nature, but instead the fact that it was given a ‘reason’ it was in turn labeled as a ‘problem’. Yes, maybe I’m reading far too much into this but it just felt off. The ending made it all the more apparent. View Spoiler »

The story traveled a predictable path and lacked any interesting characteristics to set it apart from other contemporary romances, even with the slight unconventional aspect.

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Audiobook Review – Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

January 11, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 8 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane SetterfieldBellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield
Narrator: Jack Davenport
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on November 5th 2013
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

ONE MOMENT IN TIME CAN HAUNT YOU FOREVER.

Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

‘Without the past to cast its long shadow, might you see the future more clearly?’

Bellman & Black is the story of William Bellman who’s life was irrevocably altered after killing a crow with a slingshot when he was eleven years old. The brief yet ominous event foreshadows his life to come. William leads a prosperous life for many years having a large family and doing wells in business until it slowly begins to decay. A sickness spreads through his family and one by one they die yet at each of their funerals William Bellman is stricken to realize there is a smiling man dressed all in black, watching him. When William finds him one day in the graveyard, waiting with a suspicious proposition.

I think the fact that I actually have not yet read the much touted ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ was a benefit as I didn’t have the lofty expectations that others seemed to have going into this story. Alas, despite my lack of expectation this was still a dreadfully dull and disappointing tale. It had a very ‘Dickens’ writing style to it yet was less adroit. William Bellman even took on a similar feel to Ebenezer Scrooge who was obsessed with his business and making money (except William Bellman had a family to come home to). The attempted moral of this story is one choice can change everything, which is a powerful message, yet the deaths surrounding William Bellman didn’t even seem to be written as a result of him killing the crow but rather it was just an implied assumption. That powerful message was definitely diminished.

The beginning part of the story dawdles along telling the story of an unexceptional man and detailing his factory and the business he conducted. While it was evident that the author conducted the research necessary to make her detailing convincing, it didn’t generate an ounce of interest in me. It was historically interesting but not appealing in the least as it overwhelmed the story completely. I found myself halfway through and realized that I had no interest in any of the characters, there wasn’t a single ghost to be found in this ‘ghost story’ and any sort of plot was completely nonexistent. I was confused and incredibly bored. The second half didn’t get any better and the plot (and purpose of the story) remained absent. The one saving grace of this was my decision to opt for the audio route. Jack Davenport was a fantastic narrator and managed to make this a tolerable tale.

Suffice it to say, this is an apt description of my reaction when it was all said and done:

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Audiobook Review – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

October 18, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen KingDoctor Sleep by Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton
Series: The Shining #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 24th 2013
Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cujo, Pet Sematary, Mr. Mercedes

three-stars

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I’m a total Stephen King newbie, so when I first decided to dive into his book of works I started at the very beginning with Carrie and was an immediate fan. Next up was Salem’s Lot and then finally The Shining which became an instant favorite. His books in print already have that creepy effect that manages to latch on to your insides, but listening to the audiobook really took the terror to the next level for me. Since it was a recent read, I was fairly shocked to hear about a sequel coming out especially when you consider The Shining was originally released in 1977. Albeit, I was on board and full of anticipation.

Doctor Sleep picks up shortly after The Shining’s explosive (literally) ending with Danny and his mother residing in warm and sunny Florida desperately trying to overcome the trauma they endured in Colorado. Danny is still haunted by the rotting corpse-like ghosts of the Overlook and essentially compels him to enlist the help of Dick Hallorann, the chef from the Overlook. He gives him the only knowledge he has of controlling his psychic gifts, but Danny’s has always been strong so it only does so much.

The book flashes forward in time to feature a middle-aged Dan Torrance who has followed the path of his father and is an alcoholic for the sole reason that it dulls the shine. An incident causes him to hit a rock bottom of sorts and we flash forward again by three years to find Dan working at a hospice, using  his gifts to aid patients in the transition between life and death. They call him Doctor Sleep.

Next, we’re introduced to Abra Stone, a young girl who’s psychic abilities make Dan’s look like a parlor trick. We’re also introduced to a group of individuals that go by the name of the True Knot who travel the country in RV’s searching out children with gifts like Abra’s. They torture and kill the children so as to fully harvest the ‘steam’ that escapes their bodies upon their deaths. Abra is the strongest child they’ve yet encountered and she’s next on their list.

Phew. That summary may have been long, but so was the book itself and had far more pages than was actually required. The middle lagged and the build-up to the ‘epic’ showdown between good and evil was fairly unsurprising. As highly anticipated as Doctor Sleep was for me, I can’t help but feel in the end that leaving The Shining as a stand-alone would have been far wiser.

What worked well for The Shining was the true horror aspects. The isolation of The Overlook, the claustrophobic effects of the encompassing storm and the transformation of a loved one into a terrifying monster. (The rotting corpse in the bathtub definitely helped as well.) Doctor Sleep leans more towards the supernatural and fantasy aspects making it less real and giving it a very fabricated feel. I greatly disliked the vast array of pop culture references strewn throughout the novel. They served no obvious purpose and should have been edited out. Game of Thrones, Twilight, Sons of Anarchy and Hunger Games were among the few I caught. I did enjoy the references to characters from his son Joe Hill’s novel NOS4A2 though.

While I was clearly left unimpressed, there were a few facets that I really enjoyed. I absolutely loved the beginning; it not only held promise but felt like a true sequel to The Shining. (The rest of the story veered a bit too far off track for my liking.) I loved the inclusion of Halloran and how we got to see the events following The Overlook without immediately jumping to Danny being middle-aged. It was fantastic to see the effects of The Overlook on Danny and how he grew up to be (and the almost inevitable fact that him and his Father ultimately took the same path). Tony also plays a part in the story as well as the original site of the Overlook is included. It was fantastic and I loved returning to those aspects of its predecessor, at least until the story took a side street into Strangeville.

Despite my issues with the book as a whole, the beginning bits were totally worth it. I listened to this on audio and narrator Will Patton did a fantastic job. Listen to a clip below to see for yourself.

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Audiobook Review – Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen Hopkins

October 4, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen HopkinsSmoke by Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Candace Thaxton, January LaVoy
Series: Burned #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 10th 2013
Length: 8 hours and 13 minutes
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

two-half-stars

Pattyn’s father is dead. Now she’s on the run in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Burned.

Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?
Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.

 

Burned series

Burned (Burned, #1)
Burned (Burned #1) {Review}

‘How many people live unafraid? To truly embrace courage, I think, requires one of two things–unshakable faith that death is no more than a portal to some Shangri-la reunion. Or zero belief at all.’

Smoke is the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2006 release, Burned. It’s a dual-narrative story told from the point of view of Pattyn who is currently on the run after her father is shot and killed and of Jackie, Pattyn’s sister, who has remained behind and is suffering through the aftermath.

While Burned did admittedly leave off with a major cliffhanger of an ending, I can’t help but think it would have been better off left as is. Smoke’s plot felt stretched and thin and unnecessary story lines were added that detracted from the heart of the story. There was the radical militia movement, the slaughter of wild mustangs, the mistreatment of migrant workers and while these are all important topics I felt that not only was there too much going on but it never felt like it fit with the main story which centers around the Mormon community the family is a part of. I think the bigger issue with Smoke though is the absence of Ellen’s signature writing style. Yes, this is written in verse and yes her prose is beautiful… but only in certain sections. It wasn’t consistent and read far too much like a typical novel for my liking.

In addition, the wrap-up was far too flawless. Too picture perfect. And storylines were left unresolved, like the lack of resolution of Pattyn’s previous life she had while on the run. Burned is one of my favorite by Hopkins and while Smoke didn’t live up to that, it did give us a resolution (whether it was ultimately necessary is definitely debatable).

Smoke is a story of survival, of learning to cope following the aftermath of abuse and starting anew.

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Audiobook Review – Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare

March 26, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra ClareClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Narrator: Daniel Sharman
Series: The Infernal Devices #3
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 19th 2013
Length: 16 hrs and 24 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Steampunk
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: City of Fallen Angels

four-half-stars

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

The Infernal Devices series

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) {Purchase}
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) {Purchase}
‘Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one’s mind that the memory might be taken out later, like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew.’

This was one of the most fantastic audiobooks I’ve listened to. Audiobooks are naturally so reliant on the perfect narrator that it could make a fantastic book a complete disaster. English actor Daniel Sharman was perfection with his various voice inflections for different characters. It certainly made the almost 16.5 hours of listening zoom by in a flash. Unfortunately. 🙂

It’s always difficult reading a series ender, there are always such high expectations. I can only imagine the strain on the author to come up with a satisfying ending, especially when there are ‘teams’ involved. For me, it could have gone either way because I was a fan of both boys. 🙂 On top of that you have to wrap up all the questions that were introduced throughout the previous books and give them their needed endings. Out of all the series I have finished though this is quite possibly one of the best wrap-ups I’ve read to date.

‘It was a near incomprehensible tangle, the three of them, but there was one certainty, and that there was no lack of love between them.’

I straight up despise love triangles, however, the reason behind that usually lies in the fact that the ‘love’ doesn’t make sense, seems unnecessarily dramatic and isn’t realistic in the least bit. This is one love triangle that is nothing like what I hate about them. Not unnecessarily dramatic, incredibly realistic, made me completely commiserate with Tessa instead of questioning how its possible that she love BOTH boys, and was a complete and utter heartbreak for everyone involved (including the reader). This managed to be so incredibly well-done throughout the story and was even given, as impossible as it may seem, a satisfying and understandable ending.

When I finally got to this epilogue that everyone kept talking about I was more anxious than anything. I can say that it was well done, that I almost cried and it was an ending I didn’t exactly see coming. I’m not sure if it was really vital to the story as a whole and if it would have been best to leave it out entirely but I can definitely see why it was included. This is likely where I’d go on a crazed spoilery rant, so anyone interested in hearing what I have to say, I’m up for a chat. 🙂

Various other things I loved about this story and series… I loved the beautiful literary quotes strewn throughout and even the characters obvious love for literature was wonderful to see. I also loved the lack of perfection and ‘happily ever afters’. Each character went through their own hard times and it made the characters really come to life. I believe the previous installments had equally beautiful writing with various quotes that left me breathless but it was so very evident to me in Clockwork Princess. I could have done Goodreads updates with beautiful lines every few pages. This was a truly beautifully written novel and a fantastic conclusion to an exceptional series.

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