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The Novel Life of Coral Ambrose

Written by: Bonnie Ballou
Narrated by: Heather Jane Hogan
Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins

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Publisher's Summary

A quirky owner of a store for used books gives bookworm Coral a messenger bag that appears to actually pull her into novels. Jumping from one genre to the next, she sees, hears, and even smells the action, interacting with characters and literally getting lost in the world of books. It seems like the ultimate escape, yet each novel Coral enters brings her closer to understanding the truth behind a family tragedy and the secret she forgot she was keeping. 

A pause-resisting fantasy told with wry humor, The Novel Life of Coral Ambrose is a mystery, romance, Western, horror story, science-fiction epic, thriller, and children’s book all rolled into one. But most of all, it’s the story of finding out who you are in life through books and a love letter to the joy of living between the pages. 

©2015 Bonnie Ballou (P)2019 Bonnie Ballou

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chelsea
  • 2019-07-18

Fantastic Book!

I loved what a good job the author and narrator did with the different styles. I truly enjoyed this book. I fell in love with several characters the story was interesting and exciting

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Spiritwalker51
  • Nebraska
  • 2019-06-27

Coral: The Real Gem

The Novel Life Of Coral Ambrose
Author: Bonnie Ballou
Narrator: Heather Jane Hogan


Disclaimer: This Audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost via Audiobook Boom, in exchange for an unbiased honest review.

I always like to preface any reviews I give with this information.
I am a 68 year old female who has been an avid reader since I was around 10 or 11 years old.
I read mainly for entertainment purposes although I do a lot of research in areas of personal interest.
I have a great interest in many things. Ancient History and Archeology are at the top of a very long list.

Review:
The Novel Life of Coral Ambrose is unlike any book I have ever read/listened to in my life and I have read thousands of books and listened to scores of audiobooks.

This is not an easy review to write as this book affected me very deeply and I want to let you know that there are places towards the end of this book that could cause emotional triggers in some people. I know because I am of them.

This book initially starts out on a very lighthearted note. Our protagonist is one Coral Ambrose, a twenty-something introvert who reads incessantly and holds on to every book she has read.
There are deep psychological reasons she does this and these reasons will become apparent as the book continues.

After speaking with her older sister, Pearl, she decides that perhaps she should try to thin out her supply of books as her sister has suggested on more than one occasion, since Coral's apartment is overrun with so many books, her bookshelves are full; and Coral needs more room for new books to read. Coral considers these books to be part of her life. She wants to remember having read them.

After much perusal, she is able to find one book she is willing to part with and takes it to a used book store that is close to her job.

Phil Reddington is the owner of Red's Reads, Used Books. In the course of several conversations with Coral; Phil realizes that Coral has issues with being able to let go of books she has read. He doesn't know why, yet feels he can help her to find clarity. Phil loans Coral the use of a messenger bag that has unusual properties.

By placing a book the reader has read into the messenger bag, and touching the bottom of the messenger bag simultaneously; the reader can enter into the story line of a book that is the same genre as the book placed into the bag, although not that specific book's story line.

At this point the book becomes quite interesting and we see Coral "living" the experiences of the main character in the books (which just happens to be herself). She has figured out how to exit the story at any point she wishes and we see that there are recurring themes and characters in each story Coral enters in to.

Coral is a thinker and a seeker in many ways. She is hyper-vigilant and is aware of her surroundings and people she is around. Coral starts keeping a journal of her experiences in the books she enters into and tries to ascertain what the stories are trying to tell her about herself.

We find a variety of genre's she experiences, horror, English murder mysteries, science fiction, romance, fantasy and political thrillers.

I really don't want to reveal more of the plot of this truly remarkable book since this is something the reader needs to experience on their own.

This book affected me on several levels. It was enjoyable most of the way through, and also very sad and upsetting in other parts. While parts were pure fantasy, reality is a very strong theme throughout this story.

I truly hope that this book is the first in a series of books with Coral Ambrose and the messenger bag.
Ms Ballou's writing is wonderful. I find it a gift when an author can make us feel things that perhaps we would rather not feel, but which we do need to feel as caring human beings. I will be reading more books by Bonnie Ballou.


Narrator: Heather Jane Hogan
This audiobook was the first I listened to by the voice actress Heather Jane Hogan. I was so drawn into the story by her ability. Ms Hogan's voices ranged from a young male child, Coral as a child of 5 years, and grown woman, different male and female characters and varying regional accents which I am always pleased to hear. She is a very talented voice actress.

I hope to hear more of Ms Hogan's performances.

In my opinion this book/audiobook would be enjoyed by people from the age of 18 and above.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James Marsh
  • Tucson, AZ USA
  • 2019-06-26

Deliciously Genre Savvy Story for Book Lovers

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.


Who doesn't love getting sucked into a good book?

Coral Ambrose is a book hoarder. She is literally running out of physical space to hold all of the books that she has read. She finds a mysterious book shop and the owner gives her a bag that lets her transport herself into a book of any genre of her choosing.


It sounds like a straightforward but clever premise but it is so much more. The stories Coral wanders into and out of have recurring themes and characters that should mean something to her - if she can just figure out what! Each book is written in a style and and tone appropriate for the genre and Ambrose makes good use of her genre savvy and familiarity with narrative tropes to turn stories inside out and to try to outwit the seemingly magical book bag.


The author performs literary backflips jumping into and out of so many different styles and she does so with skill and care - building characters and story arcs by the choice of genres reflected. Coral comes across as so clever and fun while still fragile from a past she cannot remember. I was surprised by how much the characters of the rest of the cast are built up - even as they are reflected in different roles and incarnations.


There were moments that made me laugh out loud, cheer for and want to hug Coral for everything she goes through.


The narrator Heather Hogan performs remarkably, tailoring her reading to many varied styles, including accents and difference cadences not to mention making character voices recognizable even when they go through dramatic shifts in the role they are playing in each story. There were also some sound effects and modulation that were used well without being distracting.


If you love stories, mysteries, genre defying subversions or clever meta narrative play then you can't go wrong here.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Author in Love
  • 2019-06-24

A fantastic concept delivered with heart

This story completely blew me away. Many laugh out loud moments and a poignant but satisfying denouement. I couldn’t stop listening.

The narrator is beautifully expressive, though it took a while for her British accent to settle.

I thoroughly recommend this book. You will not regret it.

Nice work, Bonnie! I look forward to more from you.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chrissy. E
  • 2019-03-22

Really cool concept!

It took a few to get into the book but once I did I was hooked. I really enjoyed the plot line and how Coral figured out how to play this new role she found herself in. I love stories with in stories and this one had quite a few. The narration was wonderful. Heather was easy to follow and her slight changes in her voice to delineate between characters was on spot and not distracting. Overall I found this book to be well worth the time and money.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah Kurasz
  • 2019-09-13

Spot on Parodies

Coral Ambrose is a woman with lots of book. Too many books. She's also haunted by a long ago tragedy that she can't quite remember. Than she's given a bookbag by a mysterious book store owner and suddenly she's living out the plots of her books.

So, first things first, I did not like Coral at first. She was kind of dumb and annoying. Also, the book starts in media res which was disorienting and confusing. But then I kept listening and it grew on me. The mystery of what Coral can't remember is slowly revealed through the stories she experiences and Coral does get less annoying.

What really saved this book for me was the author's ability to spot on parody popular series and authors. I could actually name which books she was parodying at several points an I have to admit I actually laughed out loud at some points. Especially during the romance novel.

The narrator did a great job at changing her style according to the style of the book we were in and characters were distinct and recognizable. Overall it was a good book and I look forward to seeing what else the author produces.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.