Jasper Quigley is tired of being everyone’s favorite sidekick. He wants to become the hero of his own life, but that’s not going to happen if he agrees to help out his former best friend turned king of the jocks, Milo Lionetti. High school was miserable enough, thanks, and Jasper has no interest in dredging up painful memories of his old secret crush.
But Milo’s got nowhere else to go. His life is spiraling out of control and he’s looking to turn things back around. Step one? Replace the rare Odyssey cards he lost in an idiotic bet. Step two? Tell his ex-best-friend exactly how he feels—how he’s always felt.
Jasper may be reluctant to reopen old wounds, but he never could resist Milo. There’s a catch, though: if Milo wants his help, he’s going to have to pitch in to make the upcoming children’s hospital charity ball the best ever. But as the two don cosplay for the kids and hunt for rare cards, nostalgia for their lost friendship may turn into something even more lasting…
Okay, not gonna lie. I generally pass up audiobooks with two narrators…I’m stereotyping I know…but usually one is not as good as the other (in my own mind)…blah blah, whatever random reason I’ve come up with that basically comes down to, if it’s not done by one of my favorite narrators, I don’t want to listen to it. BUT…here…I’ve got one of my favorite authors, writing a great book, with two of my absolute favorite narrators, who are so very different in their approach it made the book without question a 5 pieces of eye candy audiobook review.
First, the book itself. I will say, I didn’t read book 1 (My mistake! I meant to, and realized as we were introduced to the characters from book 1 that I didn’t…back to that later). So, I had no basis for these characters, or even what Odyssey was. Having never played a card game similar to Odyssey, I had no idea of the intricacies in them. The author managed to convey to those of us who have not played these types of games, the complexity of it, without it being so complex that I dropped out of the story. I was very impressed, because that’s a very fine line to walk, and the author managed it perfectly. Either she is a game player herself, or she did a ton of research to fake it. Either way, well done.
The MC’s, had a history, best friends as children until Milo turned away from Jasper. However, I loved how Jasper grew from that, and later realized that they may have never become the people they were without having separated and worked on finding themselves…even if they were still a work in progress. Milo was still navigating how to become the man he wanted to be, for himself, as well as his brother and Jasper. Owning up to the consequences of his actions, accepting those consequences, and moving forward all worked to shape Milo further. And along the way, they fell in love, slowly, carefully, but without question.
Now the narration. I love Joel Froomkin. He brings such character and life to every character he narrates, each in a very different way. I’ve said before that if I re-read a book that Joel has narrated, I usually hear his voice in my head as I read. Without question, if Joel narrates it, it is an auto-buy for me.
Kirt Graves is also an amazing narrator, with such a gritty voice that reflects the characters he is narrating from a real world, often blue-collar type perspective. If Kirt narrates a book, I know I will be drawn in immediately.
These two narrators together, absolutely made this book even better. I’m not sure the audiobook would have been nearly as good, for me, if only one had narrated. They worked well together. When Joel read Jasper, it was a crisp, genial tone, happy at times, pensive at others, but always what I would have expected from Jasper’s POV. Meanwhile, Milo, having grown up a jock, rebuilt a car with his father, and was going through such a challenging time, needed a deeper, more resonant tone. He needed a tone that showed he was slightly depressed, unsure what his life had in front of him other than a dead-end job, no prospects, no college degree, and no future boyfriend. It was more gritty and spoke to the Milo that needed to learn to love himself as much as he loved the people around him. These two together were perfection for this book.
Side note: I’m also generally a fairly slow audiobook listener. I start and stop all the time, so that I can concentrate. I prefer doing that over missing pieces because I had to focus on the email I was just sent, or the spreadsheet that didn’t balance. I gobbled this one up very quickly. Now, I’m behind at work. lol Totally worth it! 🙂
Final determination was a huge 5 pieces of eye candy…a number I rarely give out, but absolutely worth all of it! Now back to book 1, Conventionally Yours, which, coincidentally, is narrated by Joel and Kirt. And it’s already in my Audible library (because auto-buy)??? Lucky me!!!! 😀