Kenmore, WA, United States | Member Since 2008
While on vacation and driving the length of California back up from San Diego I downloaded this book for my family to listen to as we drove the long slog of I5. What a great choice!!! My 5 year old daughter was engrossed by this story and did not speak a peep for 6 hours straight as we drove the last 400 miles from Northern Cali to Washington. My wife was also engrossed and for the first time on that vacation I was able to experience a bit of quiet, the whole family quietly listened to the antics of Ramona and enjoyed her little story.
About the story itself...I never read these books as a child so was unfamiliar with them when I started. Basically this series follows the growth of a precocious little girl, named Ramona, and all her little innocent escapades as she grows up. The first book starts with Ramona age 4 and each subsequent book she is a year older. (well.. at least so far, we have only gotten through 4 books) Nothing huge happens here, no monsters need defeating, no saving the world, just little Ramona trying to learn how to grow up and be a good person. Her trials are things like not being sure her kindergarten teacher likes her, or dealing with the fallout of a bad tantrum. They are small things, but they are told beautifully and I actually think my 5 (soon to be 6) year old daughter enjoyed them all the more because she could so well relate to the feelings (and trials) Ramona was having and experiencing. As adults, my wife and I found the stories endearing and funny as the exploits of Ramona are very familiar to anybody who has had (or has) young children. Ms. Channing’s performance is wonderful, and she really brings to life all the characters. I highly recommend this series for anybody with young children. One thing though, Ms. Cleary sometimes gives away (or almost) the secrets of things like Santa Claus/tooth fairy/etc... Early in this series Ramona loses a tooth and Ms. Cleary alludes to (but does not actually explicitly reveal) Daddy being the actual tooth fairy, that part takes about 2 min....you can easily see it coming and you may want to skip ahead if you want to make sure that you can preserve that little fiction.
Ok, I wanted to like the book. I REALLY wanted to like this book. All the previous books in the series were amongst my favorite. The character Kate Daniels was FUN to read/listen. Remember when she was fighting in the Arena in one of the previous books, where she first came to the attention of Hugh, and an older cocky competitor asks her what she meant about remembering what is was like to fight in arena? Because she was too young to fight in the last gladiator arenas, and she tells him how her father made her fight in some other arena years ago...then the guy realizes that the 13 year old girl he saw fight years ago is the same person standing right before him...and he darn near poops his pants right there and runs off to figure out how the heck he and his team were going to survive this?...That was the *fun* Kate Daniels...this Kate Daniels spend FAAAAARRR to much time wondering where Kern is..."Ohh, where is Kern?...I LOVE Kern.....Kern will save me....Oh My gosh, I sooo want to have Kern's babies." It was annoying!! I kept hoping that Kick-butt Kate would return, and she does at the very end of the book. But for the first 75-85% we get whiny Kate. I get what Illona is trying to do, she is trying to convey the emotional growth that is transforming Kate from a loner killer into a family women. But I am afraid I don't buy it. While all character need to grow and evolve in a a series this long, I just felt that Kate's growth would have been more "I want to be married, so I am going to kill everyone who tries to prevent it", and then actually killing them. I this novel, Kern and the other weres are the big bad and Kate seems to be always waiting for Kern to show up and take care of the problem. Yes, she leads them, but it is the weres doing the vast majority of the work while she pines for Kern.
I have to point out, that the real problem may have been in the narrator's interpretation. It seemed to me that when a line could be read two ways, for example "where is Kern". The narrator opted for a more simpering quiet "Where is Kern" instead of a shouting angry "WHERE IS KERN!!!" . I may have to try reading the novel to see if Angry Kate was there all along.
All this....and I have to admit I still liked the book overall. I like this series. The writing is still mostly superb, and the characters are very well conceived and fully fleshed. I like these characters and I wanted to see how this story arc finished, and I liked how it ended. There will supposedly be three more novels in the World of Kate Daniels, and the ending sets up what may be a very fun and exciting story arc. While this is the weakest novel in the series (in my opinion) overall this is still a good book/listen.
I purchased this book on a whim because it hit one of the sales on Audible. I normally don't go for sci-fi military novels, but occasionally I pick one up, so I did not have much expectation, I just thought it sounded interesting...but not interesting enough to pay full price. I was wrong about that. I admit, I had a very hard time turning this book off. I listened to the entire book within 36 hours. I even stayed up to 3am last night to finish it. The story is engrossing, although it is hard to tell you why exactly. Mr. Saxon's language is not particularly complex or impressive, but it remains compelling. Perhaps it is the very simpleness of how he tells this story that conveys the beauty of the protagonist's life.
The production, and it was a production, of the reading was top notch. The main author was complemented seamlessly with the various voices that portrayed the some of the characters. I don't think that there was a new voice for every character, just the main characters and I am pretty sure a few other voice actors were involved with creating them. But, unlike some other productions, this production did NOT forget to keep including the " said" (voiced by main reader) during the reading. To make it clear a sentence like "Bring up the star drive, said Captain Orvlosky" would have two voices, one voice would "be" Cpt Orvlosky and the second would be the main reader say "said Capatin orvlosky". In other productions that attempted this, the exchange would be clumsy with awkward breaks between the two voices. Not in this production. I really felt that the production was top notch.
The story itself is not nearly as maudlin as the title may lead someone to expect. This is not a "romance novel", there are no "heaving bosoms" or "swelling manhood". It is though, in part a love story, a love story between two very young characters (17 - 20). And I liked how the author kept the love story at a realistic level for two people of that age during the 3 years the book takes place. It is also a sci-fi military thriller with a philosophical bent. I will admit the aptitude with which each side was able to discern their opponents motives and actions was, at times, a bit over the top. But to be honest, I did not even mind it then.
Some reviews on Amazon criticize the language of this book (one in particular) and the supposed lack of skill of the author. Well, I hold a BA in English Lit. I see what they are talking about, but I think they are wrong in hating this book. I would have to label those reviewers as that type of reader who are a bit on the pretentious side. Where every book they read must drip with social comment and Shakespearean overtones. They can not appreciate a novel that simply tells a simple story. This novel tells a simple story, with simple language. And I think that is why the novel is so engrossing...perhaps the difference is in reading vs. listening. But I thought this was a great listen.
I came into this book with little expectations, I have read some of Tad Williams other novels and had mixed reactions to them. Some I liked a great deal, others...not so much. But I was looking for something a little different from my usual fare, and the title of this novel intrigued me. The base world of this novel is contemporary Earth, near San Francisco but in this world angels and devils/demons walk among us every day. You see, they all have day jobs in the employ of Heaven and Hell as part of the eternal struggle of Heaven and Hell for the souls of the living. At our deaths we are put on trial, a literal trial..complete with Judge (an angel) an advocate (basically an angelic public defender assigned by the court) and a demonic prosecutor assigned by hell. The prosecutor and the advocate present arguments why the soul should be damned or a saved. I will admit, at first I was not liking this novel, I am not much for overtly religious rhetoric and feared that this novel would devolve into a treatise on the pros and cons of Judeao-Christian-Islamic religious dogma. Luckily it did not, Mr. Williams keeps clear of endorsing or refuting any particular religious dogma and presents his world largely outside the constraints of established contemporary religious thought. He sticks to the story and the characters instead. The lead character of this novel can be described as a slightly dis-enchanted advocate of Heaven. A kind of gritty angelic Colombo character, and he is very entertaining. I enjoyed the character self-deprecation and infinite compassion. All the characters in the novel were well conceived, and explored. Completely believable albeit in a "film noir" way. The novel was light, funny, and at times poignant. I highly recommend this novel for those of you who like a "gum-shoe" type tale with a supernatural twist, and especially for those of you who have never read a "gritty PI"-style novel but are a bit curious about one.
In this book Mr. McHugh really starts to delve into what makes Nathan tick, and by the end you realize that you REALLY want Nathan on your side. I am really enjoying this character, who is becoming for me the quintessential anti-hero. He is dark, angry, nuanced, and very self-righteous, even downright scary...a true "bad@$$" The character just keep getting deeper and deeper throughout this book and I could not wait to discover what next secret Mr. McHugh was going to divulge. Now that Nathan has his memories back, we also get to start meeting some of the people from his past, and they don't disappoint either. The characters in this book are amongst some of the most interesting characters I have ever met, even the bad guy in this novel had me intensely curious about his past. While the plot if this book is tense, gripping, and well-paced what really drives this book are Mr. McHugh's characters. He provides detailed back story for almost every character we meet in this novel, including one of the most complete back stories for the evil protagonist I have ever come across. I was particularly impressed how he presented the "bad guy's” backstory in small little tidbits delivered throughout the novel as part of the action of the "present day" action. Most authors provide the back story of the protagonist as a one off flash back presented in a couple of pages. The result is usually an, at least somewhat, one dimensional origin story. Not here, the protagonist was almost as intriguing to discover as Nathan's past.
As for the plot itself, as I said, it is intense and gripping. We have two plots in play, the major plot of a really evil person doing really evil things whom needs to be stopped. But we also get a secondary plot of evil behind the scenes machinations of which the main plot is only a part. We meet a very evil protagonist and are given hints at a larger, more menacing master controlling things behind the scenes. Both plots mover at the exact correct speed and with a perfect balance of detail. Once again Mr. McHugh is able to accomplish telling his story without going "to far". I personally don't like to read about truly horrific things done to nice people in such detail that it gives me nightmares. I like them stated, but not overly dwelled upon so that I get the level of evil that is happening without wanting to scrub my brain out with soap afterwards, and Mr. McHugh for me reaches this exact level. I highly recommend this novel for adults who want a light easy listen.
This take on the paranormal detective/mystery novel is one of the better worlds I have come across. In a nutshell, in this world all the old legends are true, the old gods are/were real etc... and now live in secret in the modern day world. A secret hidden island/land, called Avalon, is where the seat of power that rules these hidden entities resides. Our intrepid Hero runs afoul of an evil cabal out of Avalon, and must fight his way clear. What made this book for me was our intrepid hero. While he is definitely a "good guy", he is no overgrown boy scout. He is dark, angry, and at times vicious. He is more avenging angel then superman, if you know what I mean. The story itself while at times dark, is well written, intriguing and easy to follow and never gets so dark that you want to fast forward. Mr. McHugh is an excellent writer, who is able to keep his language simple while still remaining very descriptive as he paints his world. If you are looking for a light adult listen, I can highly recommend this book. I have already purchased the second novel and am looking forward to it.
This is a wonderful book. I acquired it for one of the long drives this vacation...as we crossed Montana. My 7 y'old AND my 3 y'old daughter AND my wife (who generally dislikes audio books) were all engrossed and quiet for the entire length of this book. It is well read and wonderfully written.
First a little about the story, this is a book about a "sickly" child, Benji, who (for a reason I won't divulge here) gets a VERY smart dog (Elvis), and how by getting this dog he changes his life for the better. Benji is a fairly typical ten year old boy, albeit sickly, living a typically life. His travails include occasionally passing out and dodging bullies. His mother is a bit hysterical (and thus hilarious) but so well conceived and written that she is also sympathetic, my wife even said she could (kind of) relate to her. Likewise, Benji and his friends are very relatable resulting in a very sweet and fun (and funny) story of making a place for yourself in the world. We all laughed (my 7 y'old most of all) out loud and even my 3 y'old went on how "that's funny".
I highly recommend this book for listening with your kids.
First off, I have to get it off my chest, it has to be said that the cover art is moronic...all I can think is if she fires that gun she will be smacked in the face by the recoil, and fails to convey the "hard sharpshooting" mystic that is supposed to be Andrea. But oh well, who cares about that anyways.
The story: The story is a little aggravating, even annoying at times. I think that Ms. Andrews is trying to explore the ramifications of shape shifters who are subject to becoming mated, a condition that is supposedly a great deal more intense than just married and apparently consists of a biological attachment as much as a romantic attachment, and how it affects a person who also possess a human mind that is capable of deciding against the mating. Basically what I am trying to say is that half of this book is about how Andrea and Raphael fight this "mating" and the emotional and intellectual angst this creates in Andrea's mind. Unfortunately is makes Andrea come across a bit like a dimwitted teenage girl. I did not like the whole "irresistibly drawn to him" subplots and "what the hell is wrong with me" angst that permeates much of this novel. But the overall story/plot line was not bad. Andrea investigates a murder, said investigation leads to major bad guy that needs to be defeated. (I don't want to give away any spoilers). When Andrea is not whining about Raphael, she is an interesting character whom I came to root for. It helps that the Narration was quite good. If, like me, you have come to really enjoy the Kate Daniels series, of which this is an offshoot (pun intended), you will probably enjoy the novel. But if this is your first foray into Ilona Andrews novels, I suggest you read the Kate Daniels series first (Magic Bites is book 1).
I found this one a little on the average side, although I did enjoy it for the most part. Of course if you LIKE listening to the whiney ramblings of a teen-age like women pine after an ex-boyfriend whom she "just can't seem to call" to discuss the issue, and then wonders why that is not working. So she spends all her time getting angry and... well, acting like a jilted teenage girl ..then hell… you will probably love this book. I just can't bring myself to believe that rational, real women act like that so I find it annoying.
So I did not get to listen to this book as my 6 year old daughter finished it in one sitting. SHE wants to review it though so what follows is her words, I am merely the typist.
" I liked the book because I really like ghosts and because I liked the A.S.G. (Averagely Spooky Ghosts) and I liked the I.R.G. (Incredebly Revolting Ghost). I liked the song the I.R.G. sang when he was playin on the piano. The I.R.G. was really funny. I liked the A.S.G.'s name because it sounded neat. And I liked how the A.S.G. scared the mean sister."
(translation by Dad)
My daughter LOVED this book, it really caught her imagination and she is dying to get the second in the series. I could hear her laughing and squealing from her room the entire time she listened to the book. She thought the characters were really funny and she became quite invested in their lives and story. Note to parents: while in the end everything turned out well, there were points in the book that worked her imagination to the point that she got a little scared. The next night she said that she was too scared to sleep alone, but when I told her that if the book scared her that much she could not get the second...that ended that thought...but I do think that there were points in the book that were a little scary, so I suggest not letting young children listen to it at night. :)
OK...this is one of those books that adults are going to have to sit through. As an adult, this book is too simplistic and clearly geared to young children to really be enjoyable. That being said, it is not a torture to listen to it. My daughter on the other hand LOVED it, she talked about it all the time, and she even teased/reassured her younger sister that she was not so quite as "naughty" as the namesake of the book. Indeed, this is the first book that she "rated" herself...she literally told me how many stars I should rate this book when she saw me on the website.
One of the nice things about this book is that the chapters are nicely divided by "story", each chapter is a stand-alone little story about "my naughty little sister" and what she and her friends were up to. I think my daughter liked the book so much because these stories were simple, realistic, and (I suspect) possibly true. She is able to relate to the stories very well, and I think it made her feel better to realize that little sisters are the same the world over. I do recommend this book, and my daughter highly recommends it.
I have historically loved the Kitty Norville series, but this one left me a little wanting. First off let me say that Marguerite Gavin is spectacular as usual, and the production of this audio book is of very high quality. The writing itself is crisp, funny, and well done...the story on the other hand is basically a set-up for (hopefully) the next novel. The plot in this book just seemed very low-key, no really overall dramatic plotline, when something does happen it is quickly resolved..then something else might happen but these subsequent events did not really seem connected to the prior event. Rather there seems to be several hidden sub plots/action streams happening that we don't really get to see yet. I equate this book with a "book 1" of a trilogy, where some minor things happen but the real plot is to be revealed and resolved in subsequent novels.
That being said, I think that Ms. Vaugh is leading up to a humdinger of a showdown and anybody who misses this book will be lost in later books. So it is a must-read for Kitty Norville fans, but it will probably leave you a little disappointed that nothing really happens.
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