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Joshua

www.newimperium.org

mcleansville, NC, United States | Member Since 2013

337
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 104 reviews
  • 115 ratings
  • 272 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015
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74

  • The Sound of Rebellion: The Human Division, Episode 8

    • UNABRIDGED (41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    Overall
    (524)
    Performance
    (470)
    Story
    (475)

    The Colonial Defense Forces usually protect humanity from alien attack, but now the stability of the Colonial Union has been threatened, and Lieutenant Heather Lee and her squad are called to squash a rebellion on a colony world. It seems simple enough - but there's a second act to the rebellion that finds Lee captive, alone, and armed with only her brains to survive.

    leonie says: "Look with your ears."
    "Short Action-Packed Episode"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a fun action-packed episode in the ongoing series. So far Scalzi has been giving us lots of vignettes of various characters in the universe as the larger plot unfolds in the background. It's an interesting way to look at it. I wonder, since we're past the halfway points whether then larger events will be resolved in this series, or whether he is setting the stage for a larger novel later on. My guess is the latter!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Voyage of the Mourning Dawn: Eberron: Heirs of Ash, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Rich Wulf
    • Narrated By Marcella Rose Sciotto
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    young street thief finds herself embroiled in a quest to find a powerful super-weapon thought lost during the final days of the Last War. She's never known anything but the dingy streets of her own city, but she is taken in by the crew of the airship "Mourning Dawn" and soon finds herself in strange lands filled with wonders and horrors beyond her wildest dreams.

    Joshua says: "Great Introduction to Eberron"
    "Great Introduction to Eberron"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    This feels like the world that I've been waiting to read about for years! Finally, a world that combines fantasy and sci-fi in a very Final Fantasy-esque way, one where the magic integrates into the technology while keeping the magic part mysterious. Its sci-fi elements lean a bit towards steampunk, but still this is very much a fantasy world. Eberron is the kind of place I could really get into knowing more. The descriptions make me long to play the game, or better yet, to see if depicted in movies or video games. Incorporating autonomous sentient robots and airships powered by magic - yes, please, and keep it coming!

    This was my first exposure to the world, so from the beginning it had me really glued to the story to learn what was happening in the world. It's clearly very different from other D&D such as Forgotten Realms while still paying strong homage to that series. But I like the development of the society and the focus on character development. I enjoyed reading about the main characters, and the plot kept me interested and eager to find out what was coming next. Still, though the story itself is pretty interesting, it's the unveiling of the world that really shines. In the book's second half the plot does lose some of its originality, but overall it was enjoyable right up to the end.

    I'm currently listening to the Dreaming Dark series, which is even better than this. But, I do hope to return to finish this trilogy also in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2935)
    Performance
    (2713)
    Story
    (2722)

    Michael J. Sullivan garnered critical raves and a massive readership for his Riyria Revelations series. The first book in his highly anticipated Riyria Chronicles series of prequels, The Crown Tower brings together warrior Hadrian Blackwater with thieving assassin Royce Melborn. The two form a less-than-friendly pairing, but the quest before them has a rare prize indeed, and if they can breach the supposedly impregnable walls of the Crown Tower, their names will be legend.

    Tango says: "Delicious Icing on a Terrific Cake"
    "Start with the Original Series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Mostly a stand-alone fantasy set in the Riyria world, this "how they met" story returns to the great dynamic duo of Royce and Hadrian, detailing how they first met and got set upon their great set of adventures. As usual, this book is full of great banter and semi-humorous moments between the two of them, mixed with good characterization and fast-paced action scenes. Michael Sullivan's writing style really shines whenever he's writing the two of them - it's like they're part of the author, and you can tell that he's spent countless hours with them over the years.

    So, why only 2 stars? Well, I didn't really care for the second storyline in this book, and after a couple of chapters I started skipping the whole segments with those characters in it. It was the one about a desperate group of uneducated, abused prostitutes working to build their own brothel and overcoming the obstacles to achieving their dream...

    Wait, what...?

    Yeah, you heard right. Does that sound exciting to you? Thought not.

    There aren't many things that I would rather NOT read about more than a group of prostitutes struggling to open their own brothel. Seriously, Michael? Seriously?? You're a great writing and you spend all that time writing this?

    Honestly, I'm done with tales of prostitutes in fantasy, and I'm done with rape as a driving force in plot. It's been done, and overdone, and done again, and I think we should all be sick of it and urging writers to come up with something different. Now, I know that life in the Middle Ages was not all that pleasant for women. But if I want to learn more about how hard it's been historically, I can watch a documentary or read some historical text. This is FANTASY. If we relegate all our women to the roles of a) concubine, b) whore c) duke's wife d) farmer's wife, how are we going to have strong female characters who inspire women readers, not to mention giving us great female characters who can actually lead and drive a story?

    It's not that hard to envision a fantasy society where women have some power and are treated equally with men. Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen is probably the best example I've ever seen in epic fantasy. Others, such as the Wheel of Time, have strong matriarchal societies but still have strong gender role separation. In the Malazan Empire, however, women fight in the ranks just like men and are treated equally in every respect, and there are other societies where women actually control things outright.

    Think of it another way. What if Royce was a woman instead of a man? Would that change the story very much? It would certainly change the dynamic between the characters. But would such a storyline be unthinkable to write? I certainly don't think so.

    In the end, I didn't feel like I lost any of the story by skipping those chapters with the prostitutes. They only loosely tied into the main storyline right at the end. If this was a way to avoid a deus ex machina ending, I feel that too much time was spent building it up to really justify the payoff.

    Personally then, I would not recommend this as the place to start the Riyria stories. This is more for fans of the original trilogy of books who want more of Royce and Hadrian. I was fortunate to have read and enjoyed Theft of Swords first, so I know there are better adventures to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dragon's Path: Dagger and Coin, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Daniel Abraham
    • Narrated By Pete Bradbury
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1053)
    Performance
    (948)
    Story
    (954)

    Popular author Daniel Abraham’s works have been nominated for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award. In The Dragon’s Path, former soldier Marcus is now a mercenary—but he wants nothing to do with the coming war. So instead of fighting, he elects to guard a caravan carrying the wealth of a nation out of the war zone—with the assistance of an unusual orphan girl named Cithrin.

    Kristin says: "Epic Fantasy and Something Else"
    "Middle of the Road Medieval Fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    This is an attempt at a high fantasy (I wouldn't call it epic) centered around diplomacy and war between kingdoms, but the barriers to entry it erects hamper it from achieving its potential.

    I believe that a novel should start strong, especially if you're going to introduce us to a new multi-book fantasy series. Right from the beginning, I got the feel that this was going to be something of a trudge, with no real hook and a viewpoint switch for every chapter. I've heard this described as Game of Thrones lite, and I can see that it seems to want to capitalize on that series' success (even before the TV show was a thought). Jumping around is fine, but the problem was that I couldn't identify or empathize with any of the characters. So in the end I feel pretty blase about the whole ordeal. In audio form, it's hard to distinguish between the different kingdoms and characters because many have similar names, and we have no map to help us out. In the end, none of the separate storylines really captured my attention or imagination the way I'd hoped. Also there is no real magic to speak of, so this is more like medieval fiction than fantasy.

    You might like this if you're feeling like reading about court intrigue and the machinations of banking deals, but you'll have to invest quite a bit into following all the different races, kingdoms, and factions. For me, it isn't exciting enough to continue investing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Holiday Classics by O. Henry

    • UNABRIDGED (49 mins)
    • By O. Henry
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren, Oliver Wyman, Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (88)

    When it comes to the holidays, no story captures the true spirit of giving like O. Henry’s classic "The Gift of the Magi". And in celebration of the season, Audie Award® winners Katherine Kellgren, Oliver Wyman, and Jonathan Davis bring to life this timeless Christmas tale, plus two more of O. Henry’s holiday gems: "The Cop and the Anthem" and "The Last Leaf".

    Jim Hall says: "Three well-narrated classic tales"
    "Definitely a Worthwhile Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Three touching and memorable stories comprise this volume of holiday classics, narrated superbly by some of Audible's best narrators. Though short, it was a very entertaining listen, as each story kept me interested and really transcended its historical time frame. Definitely a worthwhile listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • FREE: Mitosis: A Reckoners Story

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 3 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (2270)
    Performance
    (2065)
    Story
    (2082)

    Epics still plague Newcago, but David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back.

    Thomas says: "He is back!"
    "Great Addition to the Series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not a bad short story for Sanderson; in fact, this might be his best short story so far. It was great to have an extra little episode so soon after finishing "Steelheart". This is a great bridge to the next novel, and leaves me eagerly awaiting "Firefight". You can't go wrong with this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Escape

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By David Baldacci
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1750)
    Performance
    (1549)
    Story
    (1562)

    John Puller's older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason and national security crimes. His inexplicable escape from prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance at capturing Robert alive, and so Puller takes on the burden of bringing his brother in to face justice. But Puller quickly discovers that there are others pursuing his brother, who only see Robert as a traitor and are unconcerned if he survives.

    Bobby says: "Agonizing"
    "The High Point of the Series So Far"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Now THIS is the John Puller tale we've been waiting for! Ever since the debut of this new character series, we've been promised some kind of resolution to the mystery of why Puller's brother was serving life in prison for treason. Now finally those questions are answered in what is arguably the high point of the series.

    Of Baldacci's two new characters, I had preferred Will Robie ("The Innocent", "The Hit", etc) up until now. But with this story the character of Puller definitely comes to life as he embarks on an emotional as well as physical quest to discover the truth.

    This book aims big, with a very well thought out and complex plot that will keep you listening right up until the end. And although with such an ambitious story it can be hard to pull off a satisfying conclusion, this one does a decent job of it.

    For any fans of mysteries and thrillers I would say this one is a definite must-read. It stands on its own well enough that you don't have to have read the other two books in the series - although they will definitely help set the stage for the main characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Snow Queen

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 14 mins)
    • By Hans Christian Andersen
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    Overall
    (3532)
    Performance
    (3093)
    Story
    (3116)

    This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

    Sara says: "Strange & Fascinating"
    "A Moment of Holiday Cheer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    First of all I appreciate Audible.com offering this as a free listen during this Christmas season! Not only that but it was timely with the big fame of Disney's "Frozen" all this year. While the stories are only loosely tied together, I was able to see a few elements here and there that appeared to have been borrowed from.

    While I'm not a big fan of this kind of writing or storytelling, it was very well done and performed.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Dragons of Dorcastle: The Pillars of Reality, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (810)
    Performance
    (750)
    Story
    (749)

    The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of Dematr behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

    Katie says: "Huh....Well there are dragons. Kinda."
    "This is YA. Adjust expectations accordingly."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a fan of Jack Campbell, having listened to or read all of his "Lost Fleet" series, so I was excited to learn that he was trying his hand at fantasy. Some great authors have been writing across genres or even multi-genre, combining sci fi and fantasy. This one is more like a combination of fantasy and steampunk.

    I'm not sure if it's just me missing something, but I didn't realize this was a YA novel going in. However, within a few minutes of listening I could tell that it was. There's nothing wrong with that, just realize that there's a lot of time spent on teens sorting through their feelings and wondering about relationships and talking about relationships. I haven't been out of my teens for so long that I forgot what it was like - and I don't remember worrying about these things as much as these kids seem to. But that could be just from Campbell's first time writing not only YA but a fantasy as well.

    As for the book, I would say that it's a satisfying and somewhat refreshing tale. However it is highly character focused, which Campbell mostly does anyway (the "Lost Fleet" series really just has one viewpoint character, where this one has two). However unlike a lot of fantasy we don't get tons of worldbuilding, and we really don't know anything about this world's history or why there are mages or mechanics and WHY they don't like each other. That is one of the novel's biggest weaknesses.

    So in closing this is definitely not epic fantasy, because I believe one of the definitions of that is a larger scope, as well as a larger amount of viewpoint characters. Still, it's an enjoyable tale in and of itself, with some interestingly original concepts as far as the mages and mechanics go. However I'm not sure if I would continue this series as it just doesn't have the depth and complexity that I've grown used to.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Legion: Skin Deep

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1323)
    Performance
    (1191)
    Story
    (1195)

    As the new story begins, Leeds and his "aspects" are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there's a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous.

    B. says: "A Pleasure"
    "A Pleasant Surprise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was pleasantly surprised to get this as a free audiobook from Audible. As usual Sanderson impresses with his concepts, and this is a very cool and interesting character that I could easily see a whole series following. This book reads as though it's a condensed version of a larger novel, though it definitely has enough detail and doesn't feel overly rushed. It might be hard to turn out a larger book with this character without going more in-depth with some of the concepts and hallucinations, but for a novella it's just right. It also has a cool ending, which Sanderson as usual pulls off with style. The main plot's concept was a little wonky, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Reaper's Gale: Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Steven Erikson
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (188)
    Performance
    (175)
    Story
    (176)

    All is not well in the Letherii Empire. Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, spirals into madness, surrounded by sycophants and agents of his Machiavellian chancellor, while the Letherii secret police conduct a campaign of terror against their own people. The Errant, once a far-seeing god, is suddenly blind to the future. Conspiracies seethe throughout the palace as the empire edges closer to all-out war with the neighboring kingdoms.

    Patrick says: "This series just keeps getting better!!"
    "There Will Be A Reckoning!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Those words, written across the book's back cover, epitomize the events that transpire in this seventh volume of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Continuing and concluding the storyline begun in Midnight Tides and continued in The Bonehunters, this book brings a climactic conclusion that brings resolution to so many open threads, bringing down justice on so many who deserve it, and generally giving us a satisfying moment of reprieve before the last push to the end.

    I always say this, but the sheer scale of the storyline in this book is almost beyond believe. It puts other "epic" fantasies to shame, as there can really be no serious comparison to this series. The storyline in this novel begins over a hundred thousand years in the past, and despite that unimaginable scale Erikson is able to make you feel like it really has been that much time that has transpired. When I look back at the thousands of pages since the story of the Sengars and the Tiste Edur began, and the betraying of Silchas Ruin by Scabandari Bloodeye, and so many other things, it's awe-inspiring. Certainly this is what epic fantasy really should be. Absolutely unforgettable.

    And there are many reckonings in this book. This is ultra-violent, no-holds-barred storytelling, chock full of political machinations and bloody war. There are several stand-out fights, especially involving Quick Ben, Fiddler and Hedge. And of course, Karsa Orlong continues to kick more ass in this novel, making me beam with pride at who has become probably my favorite character in the series.

    Yet there's a lot of tragedy here, too - which you must surely expect by now. A few key deaths are going to be hard to take; I know they were for me. It's things like that which don't sit very well with me in the end, especially when so many of them could be avoided to the point where you can see the author's hand and it feels a bit contrived. Yet the ending is pure Erikson awesomeness as usual. My only complaint is, as usual, that I didn't get as much "screen time" with the major characters and major players of the book. As typical, Erikson introduces new minor characters and spends a lot of time with them and with the front-line grunts of the army. I don't know if part of this reason is if he didn't feel comfortable or confident enough to write the harder characters, as ancient as many of them are. Certainly we haven't seen Anomander Rake since book 3 and that just baffles me. But at any rate, this book series still deserves to be on any epic fantasy reader's bookshelf.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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