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HelgaCabbage

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Too USA-centric and patronising.

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

Reviewed: 31-07-19

"If you're thinking about how to move hearts and minds in rural America - and who isn't thinking about that in 2017?" Says June Cohen.
Well, I'll tell you June. I'm not thinking about that. Nor is anyone I know.

I don't live in the USA and Audible podcasts are able to reach pretty much anyone with internet access, in case you didn't realise this. So programs that talk as though the only people listening are Americans are extremely irritating and irrelevant to the majority of international listeners.

I also found the whole concept of this episode to be supremely patronising.
Rural communities have more women in traditionally female roles! Gasp! Oh no!
Just FYI, this is not some huge social injustice. The speaker even admits that in these small towns 'fathers tell their daughters they can be anything they want to be', so I really don't see the issue.
If women want different career paths to our mothers and grandmothers, we can go out and get them. If our mothers are stay-at-home housewives, so what? It doesn't mean we can't see that there are other options available should we wish it, or that our whole lives must be limited to our individual upbringing or what's happening in our particular town.

Or maybe people in small town America are as ignorant of the existence of the rest of the world (or even the rest of their own country), as this show apparently is? In which case, ignore this review and go ahead. Tell them that other jobs are available if they want them, because apparently they don't have TVs, newspapers, modern education, or internet access to see it for themselves...

50% Terrific, 50% Mediocre

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

Reviewed: 11-05-19

There are 15 stories in this collection:

Death Of A Bachelor - Caitlin Williams
Darcy's few worries and remaining doubts during the period of his engagement to Elizabeth, and their wedding night spent at an inn following unexpected travel problems.
This is a beautifully written epilogue to the original P&P, which I knew I would love the second Mr Bennet advises Darcy to 'leave your hat, gloves and sanity on the table' upon entering Longbourn.

5 stars

From The Ashes - J Marie Croft
Darcy's inner monologue as he attempts to write his letter to Elizabeth following her rejection of his proposal at Hunsford. Brilliantly funny and endearing and amazingly narrated on the audiobook.

4 stars

If Only A Dream - Joana Starnes
After his disastrous failed proposal, Darcy is forced to stay on at Rosings to attend his convalescent aunt, Catherine De Burgh. Thus he is confronted with Elizabeth following his humiliation and crushed hopes. Starnes writes a heartbroken Darcy very well and the reconciliation and renewed hopes are done in a way I have not read before, fun and endearing, although perhaps not terribly realistic.

3.5 stars

Clandestiny - Karalynne Mackrory
Set on the evening of the Netherfield ball, this was a delightful little story that made me laugh and also warmed my heart. I particularly loved the image of a heartbroken Darcy holding Elizabeth's hand with bowed head while she kindly tells him what he has done to earn her dislike. His humble response is wonderful and makes the reader and Elizabeth have a change of heart by the way he handles the whole situation.

4.5 stars


The Beast Of Pemberley - Melanie Stanford
Beauty & The Beast / alternative P&P mashup.
An amusing and creative idea; I laughed out loud the first time the narrator used the words 'The Wizard Wickham', but the story itself was rather simplistic (as I suppose is the original fairy tale) and lacks any real emotional heart.

2 stars

A Resentful Man - Lory Lilian
Basically just a retelling of P&P from Darcy's perspective, from the time he meets Elizabeth again at Pemberley. Doesn't really add anything new but was pleasant enough.

2 stars

In Terms of Perfect Composure - Susan Adriani
A variation on the story in so much as we have an unnecessary scene with Mr Gardiner trying to encourage Darcy to believe Elizabeth likes him now, and then Darcy overhearing some of Lady Catherine's visit to Longbourn, which also adds nothing as it simply retells P&P but makes Darcy seem like he needs constant nudging to go after the woman he loves.

1.5 stars

Without Affection - Jan Hahn
Last of the regency period stories. Darcy as an older man looking back on his relationship with Elizabeth, especially remembering the period following the birth of their first child and his fears for her safety after her near death. Elizabeth using her wits against her husband for the good of their marriage was fun, but Darcy is frustrating in this.

2.5 stars

Hot For Teacher - Sara Angelini
Possibly the best modern P&P retelling I've read. From the overheard insult - to Mrs Gardiner this time - to Darcy's history with Wickham, I liked this alternative very much.

4 stars

You Don't Know Me - Beau North
This didn't feel like a P&P vagary at all, not even one set in the 60's in the USA. It felt more like a love story where the author has switched out their original character names and swapped them for ones in Pride and Prejudice, as though that is all that's needed to make this a retelling or variation. It isn't.

Darcy is nothing like Austen's Darcy. There is no pride, no duty, no decorum. He's just a rich guy who falls in love. Elizabeth dislikes him a little at first, but not for long, and that is really where any similarity to P&P ends.
I would have given it higher marks as a love story, but as a P&P variation it scores low.

1.5 stars

Reason To Hope - Jenetta James
A pleasing P&P variation set in world war II. Lizzy misjudges Darcy, they dance, he helps her with a situation involving Lydia... This is a much more faithful vagary and an enjoyable short story in its own right.

3 stars

Pemberley By Stage - Natalie Richards
Set in the wild west in the 1860s, Wickham is a highway man who kidnaps Georgiana and Lizzy is a woman disguised as a man trying to get her sister Lydia back from his clutches.
My favourite part was Lizzy entering a brothel in her man disguise and being super embarrassed. The rest was a bit far fetched and the relationship between Darcy and Lizzy was a bit too insta-love for me.

2.5 stars

Darcy Strikes Out - Sophia Rose
Darcy is a baseball star, Lizzy a journalist. A modern retelling of P&P, that still includes a Wickham and Georgiana history and a Lydia incident. Touching scenes between Georgiana and Darcy, but the emotion with Lizzy is more told than shown. Also as a UK reader that has no real knowledge of baseball, the constant references to the game were a bit annoying for a book based on an English classic.

3 stars

The Ride Home - Ruth Phillips Oakland
The interactions between a drunk Lizzy and a caring Darcy driving her home after her bad date with Collins are quite sweet. Any history between them is only hinted at however and the emotion was again a little lacking, so it felt like insta-love or maybe just attraction between some college kids.

2 stars

I, Darcy - Karen M Cox
By far the worst story in the collection. The emotion is non-existent, the conflict is non-existent, the love story is barely a story. Boring.

1 star

Overall:
The first four stories were leagues ahead of the rest, except perhaps for Hot For Teacher. It was definitely worth a credit on Audible for the audiobook, the narrator was excellent and definitely made the comedic parts better, but I could really only recommend 6 of the 15 stories.

Too many unanswered questions.

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

Reviewed: 17-02-18

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

It was enjoyable, but I am frustrated by this idea that a lot of new writers have, that book one of a trilogy means you don't have to actually complete a story.
I understand wanting people to be intrigued enough to buy the next book, but this has so many unanswered questions it basically felt like a prologue and not a complete book and that leaves me feeling cheated.

Would you be willing to try another book from Ilsa J. Bick? Why or why not?

Possibly. I did want to know what happens next, but I also did not want to be given no answers and 26 more questions by the end of book two, so it has put me off continuing. The overall idea of something sending an electro-magnetic pulse that changes the planet was intriguing enough, it didn't need to end almost part way through a scene. That feeling of being cheated by the author has put me off.

Which character – as performed by Katherine Kellgren – was your favourite?

Alex or Tom.

Did Ashes inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to be warier of buying the first book in a series without checking reviews.

Any additional comments?

Well written, but does not feel like book one of a trilogy, more like a piece of one book.

Patchy

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

Reviewed: 14-09-17

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No.
I hate weak female characters and this began with such promise, with an upbeat heroine who had been through a personal tragedy and yet somehow remained sunny and happy... But then it quickly changed into constant tears and weakness, with the hero having to literally pick her up and carry her every few minutes while she cries into his chest, which is tiresome.

Possibly the lowest point of the story is during a steamy make-out session when she actually bursts into tears because she sees his penis for the first time and thinks it is too large and won't fit... Seriously. It would be a stupid reaction from anyone, but for a woman who has supposedly already given birth to a baby?
And the hero is just as bad. Apparently feeling the need to take off his silk tie to clean her up after sex because the paper towels were too rough in the bathroom... Apparently in his bathroom there is no such thing as toilet paper...
Honestly, stuff like this is just so glaringly stupid it yanks you out of the story and prevents immersion. Better editing would have caught a lot of these things, I think.

My other problem with this story is that all the men are supposedly tough ex-gang members, but they neither act nor speak like men at all and their entire lives seem to revolve around the women and talking about their feelings constantly.
Soon after the women enter their lives they apparently no longer need guys' poker nights, or guys' nights out at the bar, their lives become all about the women, all the time.

I also found the listing of every outfit the girls wore tiresome, as though the story has to wait while we read excerpts from a catalogue or fashion magazine. Cut between these constant reminders of how stunning and sexy all the girls are (in case we're ever likely to forget), and the heroine continuously cooking the 'best food EVER' for her men, and it's like some kind of 1950's housewife fantasy.

What will your next listen be?

I need a break after this and am listening to real crime podcasts. I will choose my next romance more carefully.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator did well with some poor writing, but it was especially confusing when characters constantly repeated out loud the exact words they'd just thought, eg:
What?!
"What?!" I say...
This happens all the time. At first I thought I'd accidentally replayed a few seconds of audio, but it seems the author tried to use this kind of repetition for effect. These should all have been cut by a half decent editor.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

No. There is not enough story for this to be turned into a film. Everyone would just be stood around talking about how much they like each other.

Any additional comments?

Could have been much better with help from a good editor.

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 06-02-17

Would you try another book written by Jodi Taylor or narrated by Anna Bentinck?

I have read other books by Jodi Taylor and enjoyed them, and historical romances are my favourite genre (when done well), so I was expecting good things, but I was sadly disappointed with this book.
The best part was the mystery, but the conclusion of that was very anticlimatic.

What was most disappointing about Jodi Taylor’s story?

There was a lack of chemistry between the two main characters, so that I didn't care about their budding romance. In fact I actually found myself hating Lord Ryde. I understood that his unpleasant attitude and the chip on his shoulder were somehow supposed to be endearing or amusing, and the harsh and unforgiving things he said were supposed to be dry and witty, but I just found him obnoxious.I am also not in favour of historical books where there is sex outside of marriage, unless it is a story about a mistress or members of the serving class, where things like that were more common. Georgette Heyer would turn in her grave!

Which character – as performed by Anna Bentinck – was your favourite?

Mrs Bascombe was a nice character, her poor taste in men aside. I liked that she wasn't a pushover, without being inappropriately modern in attitude for that time period.The only exception to that was that she thought it was fine to have sex with a man who was talking about leaving the country and to whom she was not married. Especially since she had no fortune of her own with which to raise any children that might come from that encounter. It seemed unbelievable that an apparently smart woman would do such a thing.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Maybe. Perhaps actors would make the characters more likeable and provide the chemistry that is missing from the novel.

Definitely NOT like Georgette Heyer

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

Reviewed: 06-10-15

What would have made Otherwise Engaged better?

People keep promising me that an author is 'like Georgette Heyer' only for me to be disillusioned. AQ's characters have lots of sex before marriage, and talk and have attitudes like people born in the 1990's rather than the 1890's.There had clearly been SOME research done into the time, for example demonstrating that the first rubber condoms had come into use, and that telegrams were now able to carry messages from Australia to England, but these things were dropped so clunkily into the story that I found myself cringing.

Would you ever listen to anything by Amanda Quick again?

No. I can't take any more awkward graphic sex scenes with scattered descriptions of breeches and bodices thrown in as though the clothing makes it period rather than the attitudes and behaviour.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Louise Jane Underwood?

Any number of people. I tried the sample audio and thought she would be fine, but after a while I kept checking how long the story had to go because I was getting impatient with the story and found Underwood's voice grating.

What character would you cut from Otherwise Engaged?

***SPOILER****I can't remember her name, something like 'Lady Plainshaw'. A pointless character who decided monologuing while holding someone at gun point in a busy place was a good idea, and yet despite being apparently brainless was supposed to have previously made a living as a successful spy. Ridiculous.

Any additional comments?

The beginning of the book was the best part - it promised a strong, smart, female character who could take care of herself and had seen something of the world. But it failed epically to deliver after that, and the heroine seemed to get stupider as the story went on.I also found the mystery very weak.

Slow and boring.

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

Reviewed: 03-09-15

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

It took far too long for anything to happen, and I didn't care about the main characters or their relationship because it seemed all they had to say about the other person for the first half of the book, was that they were so beautiful / gorgeous. If that is the sole reason for someone becoming obsessed with another person to the point of despair if they don't see each other, it makes me hate characters who are apparently so shallow.

It was mostly predictable and boring. I thought there was going to be a much better obstacle keeping the two characters apart, and when the 'reveal' happened I found it kind of silly, as if he'd just been upfront about it in the first place, I doubt it woud have been a problem at all.

I found a lot of the throwaway comments to be patronising and sometimes thoughtlessly insulting, for example, a gay character says that his boyfriend has a job as a drag queen but is 'not a cross-dresser, he's a real man'... I'm sorry but how does being a cross-dresser make you less of a real man?

Characters like the gay best friend seemed to only be included for the purpose of showing us how nice and open minded the heroine was, because they never appeared again after the first meeting. It felt as forced and stupid as introducing a dark-skinned character and talking with them about how great they look in warm colours just so she can prove she isn't racist. These days don't we just assume you aren't racist or homophobic unless shown otherwise? Do we need to admire the heroine because she can be friends with a gay guy? Big deal! The friendship was pointless, the scene with that character was therefore pointless, and as so much of this story did, it dragged.

I also found parts of the story a bit moralising and preachy. Drinking = bad. Violence = bad. Leaving an abusive relationship = good. We GET IT.

What could Penelope Ward have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I wish she had made her male characters more realistic.
As someone who has a lot of male friends as well as an older brother, the idea that men sit around constantly confiding in each other about their feelings and their love lives is pretty ridiculous to me.
The author seemed to think putting a beer in their hands and scattering the word 'man' into their conversations with each other was all it took to make them believable male characters. It did not. They sounded like women. And obsessed overly-emotional women at that.

There was also a massive over-simplifications of subjects like drinking problems, violence, and autism. The scene where Alison makes almost immediate friends with an adult autistic woman by the giving and withholding of an iPad as a reward / punishment felt like a dog training exercise and made me cringe.

She could also have chosen a different name for her hero. 'Cedric' just doesn't do it for me. But that's just personal preference...

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration was okay, although I heartily wish the flatmate character had not been British because American narrators doing British accents are almost inevitably dreadful. I have heard worse, but it was still painful.

What character would you cut from Gemini?

The unnecessary 'best' friend, the ex-boyfriend, the two-dimensional soon-to-be-ex girlfriend, the lonely diner guy… so many characters who served almost no purpose or were there simply to try and force us to think well of the heroine.

Any additional comments?

There were a few scenes I enjoyed, such as when they have a Skype call and Cedric raps. We actually see something more from the characters than just how hot or beautiful they are, or how obsessed with each other they are, and get some actual personality. One of the few times I started to almost care.

Enjoyable but frustrating

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

Reviewed: 09-07-15

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Lying Out Loud is not a prequel or a sequel, it is a self-contained story, which should not need to be read in a particular order with Keplinger's other titles... However there are a number of throw-away scenes in this book which refer to characters and relationships from her earlier titles. The scenes contribute nothing at all to the story, but rather slow the pace as well as giving away summaries of the entire plots of her other novels.It felt thoughtless and self-congratulatory of the author to include these, and I wish an editor had pulled them out of the finished book.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I lost patience with Sonny quite rapidly.At first her constant lying is mildly entertaining and a symptom of her home life / family situation. But her treatment of her best friend, the ingratitude she shows towards her, as well as the way she places her in an intolerable situation and then goes back on a promise she made to her for purely self-interested reasons, all made me very angry.Towards the end of the book, when it was completely obvious that her lies would be found out, it felt unrealistic that any person could be stupid or selfish enough to act the way Sonny does, at which point I hoped both the love interest and her best friend would simply wash their hands of her forever.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I enjoyed the scene where Amy's parents find out the real reason Sonny has been staying at their house. It was emotional and helped to regain some of sympathy and compassion for Sonny that was desperately needed by this point when I was starting to hate her.

Was Lying Out Loud worth the listening time?

Yes, overall I did enjoy it, but there were moments I wanted to fast-forward to avoid spoilers of other novels - and because those scenes contributed nothing to the story. It would have benefitted from tighter editing, as the whole 'when will the truth come out' part began to drag.

Any additional comments?

The narrator was great, I thought she got the voices of Sonny and Amy just right.

1 person found this helpful

Awful narration, great story

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

Reviewed: 07-08-14

Would you try another book written by Georgette Heyer or narrated by Cornelius Garrett?

I love Georgette Heyer books, and own almost all of the unabridged ones.

Would I try another narrated by Cornelius Garrett? No. His voices are all wrong for the characters, and I have only listened to this book once as a result, unlike my other Heyer audiobooks, which I enjoy over and over again.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite character is the Duke of Avon because he is so devilish and clever but is capable of great feeling.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Cornelius Garrett?

Michael Drew, who narrated Devil's Cub brilliantly (with many of the same characters) or Clifford Norgate, who did a wonderful job narrating Frederica.
Or Phyllida Nash, who narrates many other Heyer novels wonderfully.

Could you see These Old Shades being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

I don't know because Hollywood so often messes up the original stories we love so much.
If it was done well and stayed true to the source material, I would definitely want to see it.

Any additional comments?

Please, please, please, get this audiobook re-recorded with a different narrator.I listen to Devil's Cub (the sequel) a lot, and I wish I could enjoy this one as much, but the narration makes that impossible.

19 people found this helpful

Frustrating

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

Reviewed: 22-06-14

What would have made Remember When Two better?

Clearly the author was struggling for a way to create tension and keep the two main characters apart, and resorted to that time worn classic of 'misunderstandings'. Layla had such a complete inability to actually understand or communicate it made me lose all patience with her, and I was actually beginning to wish Trip would meet somebody else by the end of this book.

What will your next listen be?

I pre-ordered Book Three before I'd listened to this one unfortunately, so I will have more hours of frustrating heroine and zero tension to get through.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Allyson Ryan?

Probably. The narrator was fine, it was the story that made me lose patience.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration, and a little bit resentful that I'd already pre-ordered the third book in the trilogy on the strength of Book One.
If I'd read this one first, I wouldn't have bought Book Three.

Any additional comments?

There were frustrating parts in Book One of this trilogy too, especially the huge melodrama about falling in love with someone but not going to the same college (oh nooo!) (apparently meeting up at weekends, regular phonecalls, etc. are only possible for friends and casual acquaintances, but not the love of your life… *sighs in irritation*), but it was still a much stronger book. You can forgive the pair for not communicating well because they are teenagers.
To keep up that level of stupidity when they are both adults is just incredibly annoying.