I love this series, and I love audible; but this is the first George R.R. Martin book for which I selected the audio version. While I simply could not put down the paperback books in this series, I could not finish listening to this narration.
I do think that the story itself is a little weaker than the previous three - two of my favorite characters, Arya and Tyrion, fade nearly into oblivion as the action pounds along, and we spend way too much time, in my humble opinion, on plot background and exposition. And why does Daenarys mostly vanish? What happened to her? Seems like she might be important, what with the dragons and all. We spend a tremendous amount of time inside the heads of folks with, from my perspective, less significant insights and back-stories, such as Brienne and random members of the Greyjoy clan.
However, the weakest part of this book is the narration. There is very little vocal differentiation between characters, and his rendering of the female characters is almost impossible to listen to. They sound like crazy old women. I have switched over to the paperback version of this book, which I am enjoying rather more. Although I almost always prefer to listen to audiobooks, and I have a serious audible addiction, this is one series I'll be completing visually instead.
The best part of this book, by far, is Johanna Parker's narration. Ms. Parker's charming characterization makes the Sookie Stackhouse finale easy to listen to, although this book lacked much in the way of plot and I found Sookie far less interesting than in the previous novels.
I could understand Sookie's basic lack of ambition - and even her complete absence of hobbies or interests (apart from sunbathing) - in the first couple of books, as she was trying to find her way as a telepath in a world noisy with thoughts. But she more or less figured out how to cope with that several books ago, and still the only things she really has going for her is an unusually active dating life and a strong sense of Southern hospitality. Ultimately, I found myself caring very little whom Sookie ended up with, and even who was trying to kill her this time around. I felt like the book wasn't even sure where it was going, as various characters from previous books wandered in, had long conversations, and wandered back out.
I've been finding it less and less probable over the series that an entourage of supernatural heart-throbs would be getting all hot and bothered about a telepath who doesn't so much as crack a novel, follow a TV show or sports team, or crochet pot-holders, and in this book I just didn't buy it at all. Sookie is not a strong female protagonist trying to make her way in the world. She's a waitress with no hobbies who feeds off drama so much that she might deserve a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
I'm disappointed with how this series ended - I have enjoyed many of the books, and hoped that some character development would take place and that maybe Sookie would evolve somewhat because of the ordeals that she has been through. She hasn't. She has the same fairly limited worldview and approach that we saw in Book One. This book was less a thrilling wrap-up to a beloved series, and more a puttering out of an engine that was out of fuel.
Flashman is a scoundrel, a rogue, a coward, and a philanderer, and I thoroughly adore him! David Case's rendition of this classic heroic villain is simply inspired. The way he renders Flashman's alarmed and yet hilariously sardonic observations in this deadpan voice is just perfect. I found myself laughing out loud at the combination of Fraser's wordcraft and Case's performance in many places.
You'll likely find this story more enjoyable if you are fond of anti-heroes, if you like dry British humor, and you have a yen for adventures. Flashman travels around the globe having wildly improbably adventures (this time in India), having sex with all the women he's physically able to, and being given credit he absolutely does not deserve for heroic feats he did his best to avoid performing.
I love, love, love this book, and all the others in the Flashman series.
I actually liked the way Martin Scorcese ended his film version of
However - and this is a big however - the narration is SUPERB. Reading this novel, I would probably have set it down and walked away, but I couldn't stop listening to the intense and evocative reading by this exceptional cast. The performances were tremendous. If you are considering buying this book in paperback, don't bother. The only reason to read it is to hear the phenomenal narration.
There are better ways to spend your credits - there are a huge number of truly amazing audiobooks on Audible. But if you're interested in reading the original vampire tale, there is simply no better way of doing it than listening to this audiobook.
I really don't understand how anyone could write this beautifully. This is a traumatic listen in many ways - Courtenay doesn't pull any punches on his disturbing subject matter, all based in the horror of apartheid, from rape to murder to the worst injustices you can imagine. But the incredible transcendent beauty of the story, the vivid, breathing characters, the reality of their struggles and the strength of their passion, make it a book well worth listening to. There were times I felt like I couldn't possibly listen to another word because my heart was breaking, and more than one night when I stayed up way too late listening for what happened next. If you are looking for a light, pleasant read, then get something else. But if you want something that will transport you to another world, and engage your heart and mind for days, weeks and months to come, then don't hesitate - buy.
There's nothing really wrong with this story, per se, the problem is there's not a lot right with it, either. There's a lot of very, very slow buildup to a climax that isn't all that astounding. I have a little difficulty being compelled by any of the characters, except perhaps Eliza, who ends up behaving in a way so completely incomprehensible to me that in the end I can't relate to her at all. The writing is pretty solid. If you like a really slow-moving, relaxed book, this is it.
If you're looking for another steamy Black Dagger Brotherhood book, in the tradition of the other Black Dagger Brotherhood books, this more or less fits the bill - better than some, worse than some - but chances are, you're not buying this to be surprised. I wasn't, and I wasn't disappointed by the plot. Whenever JR Ward takes her story back in time, the writing is stilted - Ward's just not in her element trying to make language or description seem historically accurate. Lots of "verily" or "hereunto" and just random historical accent words that good historical novelists wouldn't dream of using - but chances are, you're not reading the Black Dagger books because of the historical detail either. I wasn't. I wanted a steamy, paranormal, fast-paced adventure/sex/love story, and that's what you get.
However, the narration was a little jarring. Clearly the narrator would have been better suited to reading Thomas Hardy or Mark Twain or one of the other classics. JR Ward writes much of her prose in 21st-century slang, using terms like "fidiot" or "POS", to list a couple of the more vanilla. The prose is sort of a stream-of-consciousness of semi-thug vampires and other supernatural beings. Listening to this narrator try to master the perpetual slang was not unlike listening to an accountant read rap lyrics on public radio. Mostly the extremely correct pronunciations just made me smile - a few times I came close to laughing. If you can get past that, or it doesn't bother you, this book may be worth that credit.
Essentially, no surprises here in terms of what you'd expect from the book, and if you can hang in there with the narration, you'll have a basically satisfying experience.
I gave this book four stars because I love the Reacher series and Lee Child and I'm glad there's another book. However . . . this novel is badly in need of editing. There are numerous interminable conversations that recap information we already know. I actually carried on conversations with other people while listening to parts of this book with one earbud in, just waiting for something to happen.
As usual, Reacher kicks the bad-guys around, and there are a couple of satisfying twists, and plenty of national and international intrigue. The evildoer is very evil, the stakes very high, and the conclusion ties up loose ends. But I get the sense that Child was just going through the motions, trying to keep a best-selling character alive and fill up a few hundred pages, without really feeling it. Usually I'm at the edge of my seat with the Reacher books. This time, I could have used a fast-forward function.
If you're new to Child and Reacher, pick one of the earlier books, like "The Killing Floor", to start with.
Although this is ostensibly a children's book, I would hesitate to let my 10-year-old listen to it because it's really rather disturbing. For anyone older than ten, though, it's a lovely read, and Gaiman's narration adds a great deal. Coraline's dark adventure with the "other" mother is chilling and paced exquisitely. Highly recommended!
This may be listed as a book for adolescents, but as a 33-year-old woman who isn't generally fond of Sci Fi, I can assure you that this novel is a terrific listen for ANYONE. I would award it more stars if I could. I am an avid fan of audiobooks and have had difficulty pausing many of my listens from audible, but I absolutely had to listen to this one nonstop - no choice. I literally paused my life for this book.
From the opening scenes in the dystopic former U.S. where 16-year-old Katniss has to grapple for her family's survival on a daily basis to the heart-stopping scenes in the arena in the Hunger Games, the action never lets up. The strategy and conflict involved in the brutal gladiator-style combat are stark relief to the story of Katniss herself and her unlikely ally - and love interest - Peeta. The narration, while at first a little off-putting because it doesn't sound like a 16-year-old girl, turns out to be spot-on and a perfect complement to the story.
In short, I can't recommend this book highly enough. I'll probably listen to it again before too long. I usually listen to crime novels and historicals, but this book easily outpaced the most nail-biting crime novel I've ever read. Use your credit - get it, get it now.
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