February 21, 2014

the state of my reading - february 2014

Audiobooks give me an opportunity to do some great
multi-tasking - like the Saturday morning I spent in
bed cuddling with the kittens and crocheting a scarf
while I listened to Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts.
I haven't said much about the books I've been reading this year, because I haven't done much reading. Fortunately, thanks to audiobooks, I'm managing to make my way through a list of stories that have been on my to-read list for a while.

The only real downside of audiobooks is how long it takes to listen. The ones I have listened to lately average about 16 hours, which is more time than it takes to actually sit down and read it. But, audiobooks come with enough perks to balance this out:
  • I can listen on my way to and from work everyday (about 45-minutes to an hour round-trip).
  • I can listen while I fold laundry, do my dishes or make dinner.
  • I can listen while I work on some crocheting projects that have stacked up during the past year. (I'm currently making a throw, and I can't wait to share photos of it once I finish.)
  • Listening to audiobooks doesn't seem to distract me too much from my writing - not in the way the act of reading does.

Now, that last one is a tricky matter. Maybe there's a science behind it, or maybe it's all in my head. But for some reason, when I'm heavily involved in an editing or writing project, I struggle to get my mind focused on reading. Audiobooks, however, seem to be the exception. For me, they're more of a substitute for watching TV. Now, having said that, I tend to stick to a couple of authors when I listen to audiobooks while multi-tasking: Nora Roberts and Julie Garwood. My explanation - I've read so many books by both authors since I was 12 that my brain is accustomed to their styles.

Whatever the reasoning may be, here's a rundown of the audiobooks I've listened to so far this year and the reviews I left on Goodreads:

Dark Witch
By Nora Roberts
This was OK. I hate saying that, because it's Nora Roberts and I adore her, but it was only OK. A little slow to start, but once it got going (about five or six chapters in) it picked up speed nicely.

Overall I enjoyed it, but it had so many similarities to the Sign of Seven and Three Sisters trilogies that I felt like I'd read it before. Only... I liked the Sign of Seven better.

Still, the story's saving grace is how well it's written and the character Iona was relatable. And, because I'm a sucker for Nora, I'll certainly tune into the next two installments -- I just won't wait on pins and needles.
Rating: 4 Stars

Whiskey Beach
By Nora Roberts
I'll agree with what others have said. As seems to be the case with most of Nora's latest releases this book gave me the feeling of being a story I'd read before.

Like the defeated cop who fled Boston for small-town Alaska in Northern Lights, Eli Landon is a man trying to piece his life back together after a year of struggling with depression and pain stemming from a crime he didn't commit. His family's wealth and storybook history (both bad and good) has a feel like Cade Lavelle's in Carolina Moon, but their relationships are current clout are more MacGregor-like. He escapes to a family house with a history of treasure, like the Calhoun series.

But, maybe because of these similarities, I was drawn to Eli. And I actively wanted him to overcome his past and become better. And Abra, his love interest, was wonderful, too. While she did sometimes seem too good to be true, she was kind of inspirational. She's been through a difficult past, but had the courage to move on from it to focus on a simple life where she takes pleasure in simple things. Watching the two of them fall in love and become partners was lovely.

While I felt like I was reliving past stories, and even had the whodunit figured out well in advance (figuring out the person(s) behind the past and present crimes committed), the story still held enough natural suspense that kept me holding my breath to see how the revelations unfolded.

I listened to this on audio book, and don't share the opinions several others had. It was the original narrator, and I thought he did just fine.

The story seemed to drag on a little and could have been tightened up a bit -- particularly at the beginning. Still, I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would going into it, which was a pleasant surprise. By no means a new favorite, I don't regret the hours I spent listening to Whiskey Beach.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Witness 
By Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts not only delivers one of her best novels in recent years, this might be one of my favorites of all time. While there are some similarities to Carolina Moon and Carnal Innocence - girl with a complicated family/personal past she's trying to escape and a charming southern gentleman willing to help her no matter what - there was enough unique and different about this one to let it stand on its own. And where there were similarities, well, I loved both of those books, so it gets a free pass.

This story had me riveted from page one. It's been a long time since I've been so caught up so fast. I feel like it's impossible to really say much without spoiling the whole story, but I'll say the action was enthralling, the romance endearing and plenty of angst-filled moments from both.

I'll be adding this one to my NR favorites list.

Rating: 5 Stars

By Nora Roberts

This was a fast-paced and interesting read. Carrying plenty of Nora's signature features and style, the characters are what you would expect. This is one of her more unique stories plot-wise. I kind of like how everything wasn't tied up perfectly I'm the end and well enough. That's all I can say without spilling plot details.

Rating: 5 Stars

Now I'm curious about all of you. What have you read lately?

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1 comment:

  1. I don't listen to audiobooks, with the exception of one. A friend gave me Adriana Trigiani's "The Shoemaker's Wife" on CD. A lot of CDs (it's a long book). I listened mostly when I was in my car, driving, and found that I didn't pay as much attention (because I was driving!). Also, Trigiani had the idea of splitting the book into two narrators - the lyrical, lilting voice of Annabella Sciorra narrated the first half (which takes place in Italy), and Trigiani narrated the second half (in NY). I love Trigiani as a writer, but her nasally voice and New York accent made for a rough transition. I'm presently having my own books narrated, and hope to have the audiobooks available within a few months.