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Audiobook Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Audiobook Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Dan Bittner, Emma Galvin
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5
Published by Scholastic Audio
Published on: July 1, 2014
Genres: Werewolves, Young Adult
Length: 9 hrs & 24 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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SINNER follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Shiver Trilogy.


Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her.


Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes. But what's the point? What is there to win?


Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to love each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.

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I was originally planning on reading SINNER ‘just for me’ because I don’t typically review novellas, but at 368 pages this story can’t really be labeled short. Then I succumbed to the lure of Whispersync when I realized that the audiobook featured not one but two narrators. And, of course, the lower price helped too. From there my dilemma grew as it became apparent that Cole & Isabel’s tale, although beautiful, was more contemporary in nature than paranormal (i.e. not my thing), only to end up completely floored by the sheer brilliance of it all that my review practically wrote itself. Yeah… Maggie Stiefvater tends to have that effect on me.

Plot wise, there’s not very much to this book; a rehabilitated rockstar is trying to make a comeback with the help of a reality TV show while also attempting to win back the woman he loves. It was all very… L.A. I didn’t mind the simplicity of the story because well, in all honesty, this author’s writing style could probably make tomato soup attractive. Plus, it allowed her lyrical prose to really shine. I loved the alternating POVs—Cole’s eccentric monologues, and Isabel’s pessimistic outlook—the secondary characters (especially Leon), and the hot / cold romance. Virtual Cole was a quirky little extra as well.

St. Clair is a werewolf; however that fact seemed secondary in this THE WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS novella, which perplexed me at first. I thought I would miss the paranormal elements of this series, but by trimming off all of the excess the author was able to better convey that SINNER is first and foremost a love story. I liked how broken both of the characters were, and how they refused to apologize for their imperfections. I found it interesting how Culpeper equated Cole’s wolfing out to a drug relapse, and in a lot of ways it was so much worse. The romance was as touching as it was heartbreaking, and there were even a few heated scenes that made this novel borderline New Adult (YA readers beware!).

The dual narrators were a nice fit for SINNER’s alternating POVs; I enjoyed both Dan Bittner and Emma Galvin’s performances. They certainly did Stiefvater’s writing proud, and as a result, I couldn’t help but fall even more in love with her trademark poetic style. My only complaint was that I wish the narrators had read their respective POVs throughout the tale instead of just each characters’ specific chapters. The audiobook also included music that was written by the author which was a cool bonus. This was my first experience with Whispersync, but the feature proved useful seeing how there were oh so many notable quotes!

SINNER was an unexpected contemporary delight, and a welcome return to THE WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls

My Review

My Review

My Review

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. LOL! Maggie has that effect on almost everyone. She just puts magic into everything. I don’t mind the lack of excessive plot when you get complex character building and development, plus it features Cole and Isabel who I’e missed so darn much. I’m glad you loved the audiobook and the narrators. The audio had music? Really? :O YAYY! I love that Maggie is so talented and I ofc know about her music, but wasn’t aware that it was featured on this one. So awesome! Glad you liked this contemporary with a touch of paranormal, Carmel!

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

    • I immediately added her THE RAVEN CYCLE novels to my audiobook wishlist after I finished listening to this one. I forgot how much I loved Stiefvater’s writing! The song at the end of the audio was awesome too. I’m so happy that I can listen to it again and again. 🙂

  2. I have Shiver, Linger and Forever on my Kindle but have not read them yet so I skimmed your review but your rating is enough for me to know that I need to get started with this series! Maybe I should check out the audiobooks though, i wonder if the others are made like this. I love dual narrators, it especially makes sense for dual POVs of main characters.

    Either way, I will definitely read this series soon. I’ve never read anything from Maggie Stiefvater too!
    Amir recently posted…Gushings and Ravings #3: K-Dramas You Might Want To Try

    • I haven’t looked into the original trilogy in audio, but after listening to Sinner I’m thinking that I might want to revisit the entire series. SO GOOD!

  3. Oh yes I saw some nice things about this one! I haven’t read the series I confess but I have read another one I liked bu the author so I should try! great review!

    • The Wolves of Mercy falls is one of my all-time fav werewolf series. Read ’em, read ’em NOW! 😀

  4. I agree with everything you said!!! This was such an amazing addition to the series. And why make this book #3.5? This read like a novel! It should’ve been #4 in the series. Oh well, I did love it with all my heart! And Leon was such an amazing character! I love how Maggie takes little things like virtual Cole for example and make them memorable. I so agree with you about by kind of taking away the paranormal part of the book, it made the characters and little things shine.
    Bethzaida (bookittyblog) recently posted…Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

    • Thanks Bethzaida! It’s super rare for me to finish a book and review it the same day, but I just had to immediately gush after I finished Sinner. I finished it yesterday, and already I want to listen to it again!

  5. Sounds really great Carmel! I lol at this line “this author’s writing style could probably make tomato soup attractive.” I haven’t read Maggie yet, but that’s a definite vote in her favor. I think I’ll skip the audio though. As much as I love having two narrators, it drives me crazy when the alternate chapters based on point of view. The end result is ever character having TWO voices and it ruins the effect for me. So I’m glad you mentioned that, otherwise I probably would have gone after the audio. Great review!
    Berls recently posted…Tempted by a Rogue Prince | Cover Reveal

    • Yeah, that was my main issue this the audio. I was like, it already has two narrators, why not make them read ALL of their respective characters’ dialogues instead of only the designated chapters? And, I’m telling you, Stiefvater could totally write 300+ pages about tomato soup and it would be a 5 star read. LOL

  6. This one’s on my shelf…I know I really do need to read it, though I’m hearing there isn’t much paranormal in it. Which makes me kind of sad but I’m also really interested in “wolf in the city” romance…
    Mary recently posted…Reviews: A Mini Swarm of Urban Fantasy

    • Stiefvater elaborates a bit on the lack of paranormal in her letter to readers which I found interesting:

      It’s also, despite the shape-shifting, the truest novel I’ve written. I hope that those who don’t need the truth in it will see only the werewolf, and I hope that those who do need the truth will see only the human.

  7. I’m so glad to see such a positive review for this one Carmel, the ones I’ve read for it have been largely disappointed in the story overall. It’s so nice to read a differing opinion! I’m a paranormal girl at heart, so the fact that the paranormal elements are well in the background should be a mark against this story, but this line just makes me happy:

    “by trimming off all of the excess the author was able to better convey that SINNER is first and foremost a love story.”

    Gorgeous review Carmel!

    • At first, I was a little sad by the lack of werewolf elements, but Stiefvater’s beautiful writing quickly eclipsed everything else. I was discouraged by the reviews I read too, so I’m glad that SINNER and I hit it off!

  8. My oldest loves this series. Since when is a 300+ page book a novella? I usually skip them too, but this is a full story!LOL
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Take Me On by Katie McGarry

    • I know, right? I’m SO glad that it was a full length book because 70 pages just wouldn’t have been enough.

  9. My first read of Maggie was her amazing Raven Cycle, and I totally agree that her “writing style could probably make tomato soup attractive.” I’m glad you enjoyed this story Carmel, the romance in it sounds wonderful 🙂
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Cover Reveal: Tempted by a Rogue Prince by Felicity Heaton

    • I’m totally bumping THE RAVEN CYCLE up my TBR list after listening to this one!

  10. Great to hear that you enjoyed the return to this world. I liked the first two but then the multiple POV got to me

    • This one only has two POVs, so you’re safe! 🙂

  11. I did the trilogy as audiobooks and they were all really well narrated. That’s interesting that this “novella” is more of a contemporary romance that feeds off the story line. I wonder, could someone who has not read the trilogy pick this one up as a standalone romance? I’m also wondering why this is still marketed as YA lol. I’m curious to read this now, especially due to your 5 star rating (!!) so I might need to find the audiobook of it soon.

    • I think this could be read as a standalone, although you wouldn’t be able to appreciate all of the hype surrounding Cole St. Clair’s character without checking out the trilogy too. I assumed this was YA because the original series is, so the sex caught me off guard, but in a good way!

  12. I gave up on this series after the first book and now I am thinking I really shouldn’t have. I do love her Raven Boys, maybe I should give this another try.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

    • I know that this series isn’t for everyone, but I personally really enjoyed her wolves. I hope you’ll give them a 2nd chance!

  13. I definitely felt like I missed something by not reading the series first but I still really loved Sinner.

    • That’s because you did. 😉 Cole is kind of an infamous character, so although his backstory isn’t essential, it is important.

  14. I feel bad for not liking this one as much. I mean it was good and all that but it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I guess you entered this with less expectations than me. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review, Carmel 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…ARC Review: The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

  15. I have never read any of these but this sounds so good! Can it stand alone or do you have to read the first 3?

    • This one can definitely be read as a stand alone just so long as you don’t mind contemporary YA romance. You prolly won’t get the paranormal elements without reading the trilogy, but they are so minimal in this novella that it shouldn’t be noticeable.

  16. I’m adding it to my to buy list 🙂 I already know how good these 2 narrators are, and now to hear that this a great story too it has made it a must listen!
    Thank you Carmel 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…Future #Audiobook Releases Giveaway ☼Happy Summertime☼

    • I’m surprised that you haven’t already beat me to the punch on this one, Loupe. Happy listening!

  17. I am so excited to read this! I enjoyed the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (though I didn’t think the series ended as strongly as it started) but I am so drawn to Sinner because of the fact it focuses on the two characters in the original books I felt DEMANDED more attention. To be honest, I liked Isabel’s character even more than the two main protagonists, so it’s amazing now that she’s getting a book that’s all hers and Cole’s. I’d thought this was a novella as well, but realized afterward with that page count it’s definitely a full lengther.
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

    • I loved Isabel’s character a great deal too, so I’m thrilled that the author finally told her & Cole’s tale. And yeah, this is NOT a novella, but that’s totally fine!

  18. I am so glad to see this five star rating from you. I adore this series and I listened to all of them on audio so I am familiar with the narrators for Cole and Isabel. I plan on listening to this soon!

    • Nice! This is one of my top listens of 2014. 😀

  19. Okay I had to skim over this review because I haven’t even started the series DX I have the first one on my bookshelf but I keep putting it off for some reason. I think I’m just going to listeen to the whole series on audio based on how much you enjoyed this one (I know it won’t have the same narrator, but it must be good, right?). So glad to know that this was a great companion!
    Marianne recently posted…Review: Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

    • You can’t go wrong with The Wolves of Mercy Falls, regardless of whether you read or listen to the books. 😀

  20. Yay!! I’m soooo glad you enjoyed this one! I loved it so much!! I’ve never been an audio book person, but now after reading your review, I want to hear this in audio! I bet it is amazing! Now, you HAVE to read The Raven Boys series — the 3rd book comes out this fall. Ooh, have you read The Scorpio Races by her? It’s another really good one — it starts off slow, but you have to stick with it. Happy Reading!
    Tricia recently posted…Bookish Craft ~ Book Page Wreath

    • I don’t think I’ll have time to get caught up on The Raven Bots before the fall, but I am sure going to try!

  21. I refuse to acknowledged this as a novella
    blodeuedd recently posted…Sins of the Demon – Diana Rowland

    • Haha Just ignore the .5 and you’ll be fine!

  22. I’m so behind on this series. I’ve read Shiver and have Linger on my tbr. I am that far back! I’m glad you really enjoyed this one and I’m thinking that after Linger I might have to try these on audio. Hm…
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Awakened by Virna DePaul

    • There’s only 3 books, so you’re not that far behind, although they were published years ago. Just saying! 😉

  23. WOW, Carmel! I only read the first paragraph of your review, since I own Sinner already but haven’t had the time to read it yet. And the fact that you loved it even if it wasn’t as para as you would like, and that Cole and Isabelle’s story just worked for you is awesome! Cole was my fave character in this series, and Isabelle always intrigued me – she was either hot or cold and it was difficult to get a handle on her, really..
    I’m so happy you enjoyed this so much, and I’m even happier it’s not really a novella 😀
    Have a great week!
    Lexxie recently posted…Review: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom – Vanessa Kelly

    • Cole and Isabelle are such great characters! I wasn’t sure that they were going to get their HEA because the author sure made them work for it. LOL

  24. Low prices always help 🙂 A contemporary read? Well that looks interesting. And I guess the alternative POV must be too. BUT, I have to pass, unfortuanately, because I’ve DNFed Shiver and will not pick it up again so it kinda looks like I would be reading this novella for nothing…? 😛 Anyway, lovely review, Carmel.

    • Aaww, you DNF’d Shiver? I guess it’s not for everyone. 🙁

  25. I have heard great things about this series and if I’m not wrong I have first book in my TBR.
    I hadn’t considered listening to these audiobooks, but after reading your review I think that’s a more viable option. I’m moving first book from my TBR to my TBL. 😉
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Review: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

    • I’ll definitely be re-visiting this series in audio. I think the narrators are different, but still just as good.

  26. Don’t hate me Carmel, but I read The Raven Boys a little while back and was never really able to click with Maggie’s writing style. I’m not sure how that series compares to her Mercy Falls series, but I think I’d definitely consider giving this a try if I’m in the mood for fantasy, even if I’m not sure how I’d do with it. Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe recently posted…Dangerous Boys

    • Oh, well. To each their own! I’m a sucker for werewolves, so maybe that has something to do with it. 😀

  27. I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing!! I still haven’t read anything by her except the Raven Boys books and I know after Blue Lily, Lily Blue I will need more Stiefvater to tide me over till the next book, so I guess reading this whole series will be a great idea!
    Great review, Carmel! Glad to hear the book captured you even with the lack of paranormal stuff!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield!!

    • Looks like we’ll be switching! I’m hoping to start The Raven Cycle soon.

  28. Is this being marketed as a novella? I don’t get it… it seems to be a full on novel to me. Am I missing something?
    I never read the last book in the series but she is a brilliant writer. I’ll have to give this one a go!

    • It’s kind of a spin-off, or side story, so I think that’s why they are calling it a ‘novella’ even though it’s full-sized. It’s not part of the trilogy per say, but it’s set in the same world and features two of the secondary characters.

  29. I don’t know why I’m waiting to read this. I loved the series and I love Cole, gah! Another annoying reading habit of mine right here.

    Anyway, I’m surprised that she pulled back on the paranormal and made it more contemporary. maybe she wants a slice of the MYA-NA pie that most everyone is devouring nowadays. Still I’m glad that she did well and didn’t ruin the series for this.
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Loved It: Pandora’s Box by Cristiane Serruya

    • I hadn’t planned on reading it this month, but you know how that goes! LOL I’m not sure if the NA aspects were intentional, or just natural progression as the characters are older now.

  30. My friend just let me borrow books 1-3 so I can catch up because I hear such good things about the series, and the audio!
    Nereyda recently posted…Audiobook Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead!

    • Awesome! I hope you fall head over heels in love with The Wolves of Mercy Falls!

  31. Fab review Carmel. I read the Wolves of Mercy Falls ages ago and really loved it, so I’ve been meaning to grab this one. It is great to see you loved it!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
    Naomi recently posted…Teaser Tuesday #102 – Tough Luck by C.M. Stunich

    • It was a great trip down memory lane while also being brand new at the same time. I loved it!

  32. It’s really cool that the audiobook features two narrators. I agree that it would’ve been cool if they read their respective character’s parts instead of the chapters they narrated!
    Kris recently posted…Review: The High Druid’s Blade by Terry Brooks

    • My thoughts exactly. I don’t understand why they didn’t record it that way. Oh well, it was still amazing!

  33. Haven’t read anything by this author before, but have heard good things. I’m more of a paranormal fan than contemporary but since you’re the same way and enjoyed it I’ll give this a chance 🙂 Yay for whispersync!!
    LilyElement recently posted…Spotlight & Giveaway: The Fetish Queen, Part One: Reborn by Nicole Camden

    • Like I really needed another bookish gadget to sink my money into. *sigh* 😉

  34. Oh my gosh, I’m glad you liked it! I adore Stiefvater so much. Her writing is just plain beautiful! But I’m glad you still loved it even if you’re listening in an Audiobook (whoah, I just realized that I never tried an Audiobook before) I have to finish it soon! I’m still stuck at Linger! 🙁

    Fantastic review, Carmel! I’m excited to get my hands on, or listen, to Sinner!
    Paula M. recently posted…The Edge of Never by J.A Redmerski a.k.a i’m the odd one again

    • You should definitely give audiobooks a try, they take some getting used to, but work wonders on your TBR pile.

  35. Ahhh I’m with you on Maggie’s writing! It’s so lyrical and beautiful, and for that her books are always guaranteed to be enjoyable. I hope our local book stores will have copies of this soon! Lovely review, Carmel!
    Dea S. recently posted…Exclusive Q&A with Stephanie Diaz, Author of EXTRACTION

    • She could write about the most boring thing in the world, and I’d still want to read it. LOL

  36. LOL I find it hilarious that you said it was all very LA because that thought had never appeared to me previously! Glad to hear you enjoyed it Carmel 🙂
    Jeann recently posted…We’re looking for co-bloggers/reviewers!

    • Really?? What about rockstars & reality TV doesn’t scream L.A.? 😛

  37. I have been curious about Sinner but I haven’t read the Wolves of Mercy Falls (I think I may have the first book though) can this be read without reading the other books first?

    I’m pleased you enjoyed this and the narration was a nice fit.

    A great review Carmel 🙂
    Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…ARC Review: Feral by Holly Schindler

    • It can be read as a standalone, but you won’t get the full impact of Cole & Isabel’s characters.

  38. I’ve not tried her yet but was just looking at a review on another blog for this one this morning and thinking what a shame that was. They sound pretty fantastic!
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Bride Of A Scottish Warrior by Adrienne Basso

  39. The audio included original music by Maggie Stievater? Damn, I should’ve bypassed the print version. My favourite thing about this one was how “L.A.” it all was, actually. In some ways it felt a bit like a UF because there was such a strong sense of place. The only thing that would’ve made me enjoy it more is werewolves – and maybe a less-rushed ending.
    Danya recently posted…Haul Vol 2: I Just Can’t Help Myself Edition

  40. Yeah … I haven’t read any of her books. Not because I don’t want to. I just … suck, I guess. lol
    Christy recently posted…Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young

  41. I saw 5 stars and I was going to be so there. Then I saw the author. Eek. Maggie and me just don’t get along. Her books are not to my taste but I am happy you enjoyed Sinner so much.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…DNF Review: The Mystic Wolves by Belinda Boring