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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-18

My Favorite of This Series!

If you are reading reviews of this book, it is probably safe to assume that you are already a fan of the series. I would assume that a series as long as this one is in danger of becoming repetitive or stale, but Faith Hunter has proven my theory wrong.Not only is the storyline still strong and interesting, but it's getting better! Beast's personality is developing, and she has a sense of humor!

As always, Khristine Hvam provides the perfect narration to this story. I hope that never changes!

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-17

What If Your Diary Became Humanity's Textbook?

This is a story about our world, post-disease (a disease that wiped out nearly all women and babies).

Our protagonist is an anonymous journal author. She was welcome in most communities because she was medically trained and she was a female who survived the disease. Generations have passed since her life and death, and now her journal is one of the few things available to explain the days after the disease that ripped through the entire world without warning.

I envision myself in this situation, and I know my ideas and portrayals would be extremely subjective. If a new generation was relying on my words alone to explain what happened, they'd find my perspective lacking in some ways, because I would be writing to maintain sanity, not to communicate with future generations.

Nonetheless, her words become revered text that contains valuable knowledge that must be passed on to future generations.

This may be an unfair assessment, but in a small way, the story reminds me of The Walking Dead series, sans zombies. Both stories exist in a world where most of the population was wiped out by disease. Both follow people as they adapt to this new world. The people become hardened by their situations, learning the balance between trusting no one, yet finding safety in numbers. The stories are vastly different from each other, too, but that thought kept popping into my head.

I look at the men in my life, and I'd like to think that they'd retain their sanity and morals, even if they lost more than half of their friends and family, but I am lucky enough to not have personal knowledge on this topic, so perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps losing almost everyone is enough to drive most people to insanity. And I suppose, even if that didn't push you over the edge, maybe being surrounded by people who have lost their minds would be enough to make you feral.

Realistic or not, most of the survivors in this story become ruthless, and many of the men devolve into uncivilized, immoral predators. If you like post-apocalyptic stories, this one was will written and interesting.

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0 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-17

A Skilled Murderer Fools Everyone, and His Wife

Just another typical day in suburbia, driving home with her kids in the backseat...

That's what Gina Royal was doing when she realized that she wasn't going to have a typical evening. A drunk driver ran his car into her house! Luckily, there were lots of police officers on the scene, already processing the paperwork that would need to be presented to the insurance company.

Little did Gina know; the drunk's collision with her garage was a mere annoyance compared to what awaited her, inside the garage.

In retrospect, she felt so stupid. How could someone not know they were married to a serial killer? How could she blindly accept his reasoning for keeping his workshop locked up tight (he said he had expensive tools in there, and didn't want them stolen or broken). She's not surprised when the public suspects that she was an accessory to his crimes; she wouldn't be able to believe herself innocent, had she been an outsider, looking on from the comfort of a living room sofa.

She was eventually acquitted of the crime, but it cost her a year without her children. Furthermore, that acquittal kept her out of prison, but the public had already judged her to be guilty, sentencing Gina and her children to a lifetime of being the targets of cyberbullies. Trolls hiding behind the internet's anonymity harass her family, relentlessly. Unspeakable pictures are posted with her children's faces edited atop pornography and murder victims.

There is a witness protection program, but there's nothing in place for the family of a murderer. Desperate to shelter her children from the public's hateful attacks, Gina takes on new identities and develops a new way to survive. She learns self defense. She becomes proficient with firearms. She has an escape plan that she practices with her children, religiously.

Just when she finally finds a bit of peace, she learns another tough lesson. Random internet trolls were horrifying, but in truth, they weren't ambitious enough to do anything requiring them to walk away from their computers. On the other hand, some people looking to avenge the murder of their loved-ones will let nothing get in their way. When you're hurting, it doesn't matter that the man who murdered your sister or your daughter is a sociopath. If you are not a sociopath, you assume that the worst pain a person could experience is losing a loved one to a murderer, and therefore, the way to hurt a murderer is to hurt his family.

This was a great story, and well narrated. I know some people get frustrated with cliff hangers, so I'll warn that group: there is at least one sequel coming out; if you can't stand a cliff hanger, you may want to hold off on this one until December, when the second book is released.

I recommend this book!

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-27-17

Backman Can Write Any Point of View!

I've read most of Backman's books, and this author is amazingly talented. When I read "A Man Called Ove," I thought, this guy must know my daughters and their grandfathers, because the characters' interactions are spot on. When I read, "Britt-Marie Was Here," I thought, he must know an older woman who felt discarded, because she seems so real. In "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry," I assumed he must have lived in an apartment building where his neighbors represented, all walks of life, because each character was alive and unique. Now, in "Beartown," I jokingly conclude that he is in fact a pseudonym for what must be a team of authors, each specializing in writing a certain point of view, because his representation of the human teenager was very accurate.

"Beartown" is about so many things: parenthood, navigating being a teen, the desperation that can engulf a small town into pack mentality. It touches on retirement and how it effects a sense of purpose. We see immeasurable loss, beating the odds, perseverance, abuse, revenge, forgiveness...and so much more.

From the above paragraph, you may think those are too many subjects to tackle in one book, but Backman makes it flow naturally and realistically.

At times, I felt that he was bordering on over description in regards to each character's inner thoughts, but as I read on, I came to appreciate the time he took to bring the reader into the characters' heads. Some may feel that the following is a spoiler, but I want to explain what I mean with an example, therefore, I'll preface the next section.

*Possibly could be considered a spoiler*

At one point, some boys throw a rock with an expletive written on it through a window. The mother/wife gets in her car and scares the boys in a way that could be perceived as unstable. But the reader has been inside her head. We've seen what she's been through. She's endured unimaginable loss. Outwardly, she seems abrasive and uncompromising, but the reader knows how much she has sacrificed for those she loves. You feel her desperation and helplessness and anger. Despite knowing how wrong it would have been, had she actually caused permanent damage, I found myself cheering her on; then, when she came to her senses, so did I. She wasn't insane; she had a temporary moment of insanity. Backman took a lot of time to get us inside her mind, and it allows the reader to understand her irrational behavior.

*End of possible spoiler*

What I like best about the book is the multiple layers given to each character. We see tough guys in moments of sensitivity. We see sensitive guys finding their strengths. It is easy to dismiss a character as universally shallow, until we see the character in a different environment and we watch them bloom into someone we'd like to know. Heroes make selfish/life altering choices and bullies evolve into better people.

I especially like the ending, because it felt so complete that I actually exhaled. This is a great book for discussion, and I'm encouraging my teen daughters to read it. The narrator's performance was spectacular in the audio version. I highly recommend it!

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28 of 33 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-13-17

What an Amazing Life

Trevor Noah narrates his own life story eloquently. He delivers a difficult childhood with a healthy amount of humor. I finished it in two days, because each chapter captivated my full attention.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-01-17

Challenging Character to Write

I enjoyed the story and the narration worked well, so why did I dock a star? In truth, the docked star may be unfair. There is a character, Alain, who was raised to lack emotion; he was punished for using, "thank you," or "you're welcome." He was taught that nothing is real, and therefore nothing matters. Basically, he was robotic. Alain felt underdeveloped, but I don't think that's accurate; I think it's really difficult to develop a robotic character beyond what we see in Alain. By the end of the book his flaws humanize him, and I found myself wanting more, because he's bound to continue to evolve as a character.

I think readers/listeners should go into this book, knowing that Alain improves with time, because it helps to know that he's supposed to feel underdeveloped.

I'll continue to listen to the series.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-06-16

A Perfect Short Story

I hope this is the beginning of a series, because this story was a unique, interesting idea with lots of possibilities for the future!

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-30-16

Interesting Idea, but I kept Losing Interest

Would you try another book from the authors and/or Heather Wilds?

I enjoyed the narrator's voice, and I'll certainly listen to her narration of other books. I'll likely avoid this author in the future, unless I were to read a review that says something like, "This book is a notable improvement over 'The Concealed'."

What could the authors have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I would have liked less description about unimportant things. I also felt like a large portion of the character interactions were longing or brooding stares. The characters were supposed to be college students and teachers, but their communication seemed immature.

What does Heather Wilds bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She has a clear, calm and pleasant voice.

Could you see The Concealed being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No.

Any additional comments?

Great narration. The story idea was an interesting one, but the story delivery fell short.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-07-16

One Of My Favorite Fantasy Authors

Sanderson always delivers interesting plots with diverting dialogue. This book is no exception. Two women (sisters) are thrown into rolls completely reversed from what was meant to happen, and this makes for a fun adventure. Side note: I really enjoyed the talking sword. He was made to fight evil, but he doesn't know what evil is, so he basically counts on prospective sword wielders to identify evil, making him a very funny character.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-16

Can Always Count on Molly Harper for a Fun Story

This wasn't my favorite Molly Harper book, but I definitely enjoyed it. These stories are always uncomplicated and hilarious, with a smidgen of smut. If you're new to her work, I'd recommend trying the beginning of her vampire series; it's hilarious!

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