I enjoyed McCarty's Hell's Eight Series. Not classic literature, but most were quite a bit of fun. I was reluctant to try the Shadow Wrangler books. Not a big vampire fan and not into blood and gore. In a moment of weakness though I gave it a shot. Definitely not classic literature and definitely not fun. The scene in the dark in bed after the heroine has turned was confusing, way too long and just plain boring. I couldn't read on after that. Won't read anymore of the series.
(3.5 Stars) This book is on so many "Best of" lists and has received generally glowing reviews, so I was optimistic. Plus Caroline Lee is a strong narrator. And much of it did not disappoint. It was an interesting plot and the characters were well developed and generally likable. The author included several small mysteries that she wrapped up throughout the book and the ending neatly tied most of them together. I admit that I did not expect the ending. I assumed another character died than the one who actually did.
What kept this book from being a 4 or even 4.5 star book was the length. It was about 30-40% too long. Any time an entire chapter is devoted to a character thinking and the character of their thoughts, there is a problem. A great deal of this book was devoted to internal thoughts, miscommunication and "what-ifs". And even though the author attempted to use these sections to advance the plot and answer questions, that could have been accomplished far more successfully and far more succinctly. A character's introspective thinking doesn't move the plot forward. It isn't action. And miscommunication and "what-ifs" are overdone and generally a sign of a weak story.
This wasn't a weak story because the author writes well. But it could have been a stronger and a better story, if she had not written quite so much.
I always feel foolish when I begin a book that I know is going to be sad based on the synopsis and reviews, proves itself to be sad from the very first page and continues incessantly in that same vein throughout the book, yet I still hang on hoping for just a glimmer of redeeming happiness until the bitter end. That is what happened with this book. There was absolutely nothing that even hinted that this might be a tragic story with a miraculously happy ending. Yet I continued to hope. Probably the main reason I have generally avoided the whole "end of the word" genre in the past.
This book was mercilessness in its doom and gloom. No matter how deeply you dug, there was no silver lining. However, that isn't to say it wasn't a well written book with an engaging young girl as the central character. The author did a great job of engaging the reader, keeping the interest level up with enough suggestions and hints, even if none of the hinted at or suggested positive events or actions ever happened. You knew none of them would come to fruition, but you had to hope.
My original complaint with the character was that she seemed far too mature for her years. She was only 11 when catastrophe struck, but she reacted like a person 3 times her age would be expected to react. However, as I progressed through the book I realized how quickly an 11 year old would be forced to grow up in that situation, so the further I got into the story the more natural her maturity level seemed.
I thought the author did a great job of presenting a plausible "end" to the world. Nothing that happened seemed totally unrealistic or didn't fit with the facts of the situation. The most disturbing concern I had with her scenario is none of the experts seemed to be able to explain what happened or why. You would like to think that in this age of science if a similar event occurred we might not be able to alter its course or stop it, but we could figure out what happened and why.
The author also did a good job of bringing the catastrophic event and its consequences down to a personal level so the reader could relate. Discussions about shifts or tears in the magnetic field may not make a great deal of sense, but a simple statement like "That was the last grape I ever ate." made the crisis relatable.
There is absolutely nothing uplifting about this story. But it is definitely worth reading. It makes you stop and think about the plausibility of such an event and how you would react in that situation.
The narrator on the audiobook did a very good job.
I highly recommend.
realize that saying a book is "interesting" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement, but this book is actually just that - interesting. It has received so much hype this year, and the publisher's blurb piqued my curiosity just enough that I decided I had to read this, even though I don't usually like dystopian books.
I did like this book. Primarily because it kept my interest. There were several threads and several time lines and experiencing the author tie them all together was fascinating. I appreciated the way she made a man who died before the world altering event even occurred a major character in the plot. As if she recognized she was taking the reader off into the unknown, so she used this character, who lived and died in the world we all live in, to keep us grounded in the here and now.
I would assume that if I was one of the lucky survivors of a plague that wiped out 99% of civilization, and I am not sure that would qualify me as "lucky", the last thing I would worry about was keeping orchestral music and Shakespeare alive for the dwindled masses. But maybe that is what survivors of an apocalyptic event should worry about. And a museum dedicated to now useless human accessories like cell phones and credit cards seems almost cruel.
The book was full of unique twists that when thought about seem obvious. Who hasn't been stuck in an airport so long they began to believe they lived there? So why wouldn't survivors see an airport as a natural home. And if you knew the world was about to end wouldn't the perfect fantasy running through your mind be that you had a grocery store all to yourself and you could fill up an unlimited number of carts without worrying to the damage to your credit card.
It would have been easy for the author to fill pages with the expected fighting, blood and gore. But she dealt with the fact that the human race was being wiped out gracefully. And by allowing the reader to contemplate this fact one death at a time, rather than en masse, made it more plausible and easier to accept.
I actually ended up finding the authors view of a post-apocalyptic future rather attractive and not terribly scary. Except for the part about the prophet and his followers. I would hope that if I survived such an event all of the prophets and zealots would not survive with me, nor would the survivors be inclined to create new ones.
If I had one criticism of the book - or maybe I should say one question to ask the author it would be - what happened to all the cows? Animals evidently weren't affected by the virus, because dogs and deer survived. And the survivors are perpetually killing deer and eating venison. None of them would have to have traveled too far to find cows or cattle. Or pigs or chickens for that matter. Those would have been far easier to kill than hunting deer. And fried chicken, country ham or a sirloin steak would have been a familiar tie to the past.
The narration fit the book. The narrator did a very good job. I enjoyed the author's writing style and pace. I highly recommend the book.
This was an engaging book about a fascinating man who at one time was one of the most powerful and important figures in American History. John Hay served the government in various roles from private secretary to Abraham Lincoln, to Secretary of State for Wm. McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He also served in the administration of James Garfield, so he worked for the first 3 presidents assassinated in office. While Secretary of State to Roosevelt, there was no Vice President, so he essentially filled that capacity as well. He was next in line. Along the way he also found time to write poetry, fiction, serve as a newspaper editor and writer, served in several foreign consulates throughout Europe, including a stint as Ambassador to Great Britain. The scope of his life would be considered wide-spread even now. During the time he lived, it was almost unheard of.
But, more than the politics, I found the narrative describing the time that Hay lived in fascinating. He came of age during a period of great upheaval and chaos, yet he spent most of his adulthood among the upper class, moving in circles that remained constant to tradition and resistive to change. He followed the norm for his class and married for money and position yet he and his wife seemed to genuinely care for each other. He very much cared for his position in society, yet his closest friends were either snidely critical of society or secretly flaunted its tenets. And he lived through several scandals that might have brought others down. The writer does a good job of moving between the distinctions in his life, allowing us to see Hay change and grow gradually through the years.
Hay knew essentially everyone worth knowing during the last half of the 19th century and seemed to maintain good relationships with them all. The author spends quite a bit of time addressing his relationship with Henry Adams, and after this book, I am now willing to try and retackle The Education of Henry Adams.
His experiences and adventures through the Civil War were told in an engaging and easily readable fashion. The details of the crisis he dealt with during his years as Secretary of State were a little harder to get through. The writing seemed to slow down and become heavier, as Hay aged.
My only complaint had to do with the discussion of her personal life. I understand that this is a serious biography and the focus is not on his personal life. And it is difficult to prove the accuracy of personal stories relayed 100 years later. But the author skimmed over his adult relationships so fleetingly, that what was said didn't jive with the public persona the author spent most of his time portraying. Hay was hyper critical, and made derogatory statements about his oldest son, yet was devastated by his death. The loss of a child would be devastating regardless of your relationship with that child, but he has Hay doing such a 360 degree change in his feelings and emotions, it doesn't make sense.
The author makes it sound as though Hay was fascinated by the woman he eventually married. He at least a crush on her. But there is no explanation why a 30+ year old man who had avoided commitment, fell at least temporarily in love with a woman that no one describes as attractive. I have to assume it was money. Then once they are married, even though they have four children, she is seldom mentioned.
I also found it odd that a 60+ year old man who essentially serves as the Premier of the United States, conducting multiple complex treaties at one time, still maintained a decades-long school-boy crush on a woman considerably younger than him, a woman that his best friend also loved, who, based on what I read, had no interest in him.
A little more backfill on his personal life might have made these discrepancies in his behavior and actions a little more understandable.
However, my overall impression of the book was very favorable. The narrator did a good job. I highly recommend.
This book is actually an anti-romance. The main character is in love with a woman other than the one he marries for money. And his wife is well aware of that fact. Nevertheless they form a close and strong relationship that grows to the point that at the end the hero realizes he is with the wife best suited for him. I can't say he grows to love her and ceases to love the woman he did not marry. It is more that he accepts his lot in life and realizes it is actually a very pleasant lot.
I found it a little depressing and sad, although I don't think that was the intent. Marriages such as this were commonplace at the time among this class of individuals and we are told many were very successful. But I had a great deal of sympathy for the wife in this one. The narration was very good.
This was one of Heyer's last books. And it was the first Georgette Heyer novel I ever read. I absolutely fell in love with the book and the author. I found the book and the characters in it utterly charming. The book was full of gentle humor and unstated affection. I later learned that a stoic, thoughtful and well regarded hero and a younger, genteel, educated and mentally adept heroine is a consistent standard in her books. The woman is never who society expects the gentleman to fall for, and the gentleman seldom does either.
Her books are considered romantic, but there is little obvious romance in any of her novels, although she occasionally allows a kiss at the end of the book. This is one of those books where you see romance develop but never overtly and it is seldom recognized as romance by the parties involved.
This book includes younger children, which aren't typically included in her books. They add to the charm and bring comic relief.
If you are new to Heyer books, I heartily recommend starting with Frederica. It was wonderful.
Not my favorite Heyer book. But enjoyable. Typically Heyer wraps up her books quite neatly. The ending to this book - the final resolution, wasn't quite as smooth as I typically find in her books. Phyllida Nash is always an effective narrator on Heyer books.
Not your typical Heyer Regency because the heroine is not "quality" or even impoverished gentility. But it follows the successful formula of many of Heyer's novels, and was thoroughly enjoyable. Narration was great.
Early effort and pretty weak story. It was written in early 1990s and because of the subject matter (and the cigarette smoking) seems incredibly dated now. But there are well written moments that show this novelists future promise. I wonder when fiction ceases to be "contemporary" and becomes "historical."
All of the Cynster books Recorded Books produced with Simon Prebble narrating are worth listening to, if only to wait for and truly appreciate the way he says "... and ... then ... she ... shattered!" That alone makes these books listen-worthy. It is in every single book. Wait for it...
Devil's Bride seems to be considered Ms. Lauren's best work. I probably agree. It started off with a very unique twist, especially for an historical romance. And the two main characters are both larger than life. I give Ms. Lauren's credit for creating heroines every bit as brave and stubborn as her heroes. And I also like that in her books it is typically the man who falls first and he has to work hard to convince the woman of his dreams to take him on. I also appreciate that she puts a plot in each of her books. It may not be plausible or complicated, but it is much preferable to so many historical romances that focus solely on the relationship between the two main characters.
But again, Simon Prebble's narration alone makes this book and all of the Lauren's books he narrated worth listening to. I doubt that I would ever have picked this book up in paperback.
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