Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Emily Box Set (What Doesn't Kill You Series 5-7)

The Emily Box Set
What Doesn't Kill You, Books 5-7
By Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Contemporary / Romantic Mystery

HALL WAYS REVIEW: 5 Stars stories/4 Stars narration. Audio Book Review. (I bought the eBooks and added Audible narration.) I had already read (in print) the third book in the Emily sub-set, #7, of the What Doesn't Kill You series, Hell to Paybut it was fun to go backwards and read (with my ears) forward with books 5 & 6 to learn the back-stories. Main character Emily is a mess and a HOOT, and so real.  "Oh spit," did I laugh a lot, and "Mother Goose," I could relate to Emily with her coffee love and crooked teeth and alternative vocabulary.

These books are chock-full of memorable characters and notable quotables, and I enjoyed and related to how Emily struggles with her faith, how to worship, how to pray, and how to be grateful. One of my favorite quotes from book one was, "I'd done a little too much of the 'why me' and the 'not fair' instead of just being thankful for what I did have." The point was not lost on me that often when Emily does the "Christian thing," it ends up badly. The slow-burn relationship between Emily and Jack is well-done, especially as things begin to smolder in book two, and again, just like Emily, the relationship feels real. It's not perfect: there are mis-communications and missed signals and uncertainty -- and a fair share of embarrassment, thanks to Emily's mother.

The narrator, Tracy Hundley excels in her female Texan voicing -- she has an accurate Texas accent and uses the right lilt and cadence in her speech and author Pamela Fagan Hutchins's fabulous phrasology. Initially, it seems like there is almost no attempt to make the male characters' voices sound male, though they do have different inflections, but that got better over the course of the three books. I am not a fan of her voicing of children and young people, and those pop-up with some frequency, but the adult females and a few selected male characters were so excellent, I didn't much care. (Melinda, described as "As shallow as a Texas river in August," sounded a bit Miss Piggy-ish, but you know, I think that is pretty accurate!)

I intend to go back to the beginning of the series -- and read the books after this set -- to get to know Emily's other friends and their stories. I like that though the books main friend group characters are what tie the full (now 9 book) series together, they work as stand alones, too. Pamela Fagan Hutchins is an immensely talented writer and has created a world with endless possibilities for storylines, each approached to match the unique women in this friend circle. There's humor, action, suspense, and romance a'plenty! HIGHLY recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pamela writes overly long e-mails, the What Doesn't Kill You romantic mysteries, and (possibly) hilarious nonfiction. She resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, TX and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, WY. Pamela is passionate about hiking with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs (and an occasional goat and donkey), riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.

Pamela's mysteries have won a lot of awards, from the 2017 Silver Falchion for Best Adult Mystery WINNER (Fighting for Anna) to the 2016 and 2015 WINNERS for USA Best Books Fiction: Cross Genre (Hell to Pay, Heaven to Betsy). With downloads of nearly 2,000,000 for the What Doesn't Kill You series, readers seem to enjoy her smart, sassy female sleuths.

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