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In a steampunked Victorian England we have vampires, werewolves, scientific intrigue, and preternaturals - being who can negate the powers of a supernatural being. It is rare to see this many genres and ideas fused together so seamlessly, but Carriger's world is thoughtfully crafted to ensure that the components mesh very well.
The narrative is written with a Victorian flair that really brings out the setting of the story, and the characters are well-crafted.
I loved reading about Alexia. It was refreshing to have a 26 year old heroine, in a world where many heroines are in their teenage years. Not only that, but she clever, independent and not afraid to speak her mind.
My only qualm with the story was in the romance. It seemed forced and childish (in the we're-five-years-old-and-are-going-to-hit-each-other-on-the-playground-to-show-that-we-have-a-crush-on-each-other way) to me. I liked where the relationship went in the end, but it didn't seem like a believable path for the relationship to take. Ah well...
I'll definitely be continuing on with the series, I'm excited to see where the next book takes us.
The narration was... okay. The majority of the narration was in Emily Gray's native English accent, and it was fantastic. She has a very high air that was appropriate for the writing style and the novel itself.
However, Lord Maccon's Scottish and Mr. MacDougall's American accent made me cringe every time they spoke. To be fair, I seem to have a problem with all audiobook narrators who use American accents and I also just listened to Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber - the narrator of these books has a fantastic Scottish accent, so maybe I'm a bit spoiled? Either way, I think I'll be continuing with this series in book form.
If you're a fan of the Dragon Age games/universe - read this book. The book is a prequel following Maric Theiric (King Cailan's Father) as he fights to restore Ferelden's independence from the invading Orlesian Empire.
My favorite part of this novel was Loghain's backstory, it made me consider replaying the game with some different choices where he is concerned. I also really enjoyed the development of Maric throughout the novel.
I, however, would really recommend this as a stand-alone fantasy novel for anyone unfamiliar with the Dragon Age universe. I found the writing fairly dull. I applause David Gaider for this ability to write and develop interesting, relatable game characters and scenarios. But in between the dialogue and the great character building moments - I felt it was lacking.
This book was narrated by Stephen Hoye. His style of narration felt slow to me, even in the midst of a big action scene he didn't seem to have the urgency I like to see. Thanks to Audible, I was able to play the Audiobook at 1.5x speed, which made it a bit more urgent and exciting. I'll probably continue the series in print.
I struggled to get through the first chapter, and wasn't impressed by the narration.
It's hard to rate/review after one chapter, but this seems like it cold be a fun story and I may pick it up later.
I should say that I'm a huge fan of the Ender and Shadow Sagas, they definitely rank highly in my list of favorite books. This novella, however, didn't quite do it for me.
The book focuses primarily on Bean's three children who share his genetic disease - Sergeant and Ender are practically complete opposites, while Carlotta tries to play for both teams. The similarities between Ender, Peter and Valentine are striking.
It also bears resemblance to The Worthing Saga, one of Card's earlier works. In both, humans who are slightly evolved go out in search of their own world to colonize.
I did however enjoy the new information on the Formics - which got me a little excited about Earth Unaware, and should make for some interesting conflict in Shadows Alive.
In short, if you're a fan of the series - read it. If you're not a huge fan, you could probably take it or leave it.
Scott Brick and Stefan Rudnicki continue to be two of my favorite audiobook narrators, and Emily Janice Card did amazing as well. 5*s for performance
I was wary of reading Outlander, and wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard many conflicting things about the book and I hope to touch on most of them in this review. At any rate, I ended up loving the book.
The characters were easy to relate to them and I really felt and understood their emotions.
Claire, a WWII combat nurse and our heroine, was especially great. She is spunky, quick-witted, resourceful and has a great sarcastic sense of humor. Finding herself in the middle of the 18th century Scottish Highlands, she meets Jamie, who plays the hero. He's strong and independent (often to the point of stubbornness!), but he has his own monsters chasing him. The supporting characters were equally well drawn and unique. Even the main villain, who started out as a love to hate character, grew on me until I finally started to understand his viewpoint.
Historically, Outlander is beautifully researched, and paints a fantastic picture of the 18th century Scottish Highlands and clan life therein. I love when historical fiction ties large scale events into their world, rather than just taking place during a certain period of time.
Two of the main disputing points I've seen between those that loved and those that were disgusted by the novel are the sexuality and brutality of the novel, so I definitely want to say my peace in that regard. Yes, there is a lot of sexuality. Yes, there is beating, whipping, and rape - much if it with a good deal of detail. But I think that without it, Outlander would not be the book it is and, especially with the brutality, it really illustrates the time period where the book takes place. I didn't find any of it unnecessary or out of place. However, if you have a low tolerance for these types of things, Outlander may not be the book for you.
Davina Porter is an excellent narrator. She was able to distinctly portray both English and Scottish, male and female voices. It seemed as though almost all the major characters had a distinct voice. She's definitely going on to my list of favorite narrators.
Soon I Will Be Invincible was mildly cliche, but humorous and definitely enjoyable.
The novel focuses on the villain Doctor Impossible and the Champions, a previously disbanded group of superheroes who reconvene with some new members to find out what happened to a member of their team who has disappeared and take down Doctor Impossible.
The team is pretty cliche in terms of superheroes - an invincible woman, a gadget guy, an energetic child hero, a mythic fairy, a cyborg, a half-human half-cat mutant, a magician and an invisible girl. But Grossman does a good job of giving them all personalities with faults included.
Doctor Impossible was a great villain, not the villain that you love to hate, but the villain you can connect with and, to an extent, feel sorry for.
The story jumps back and forth from one narrator to the next as the point of view shifts from Doctor Impossible to Fatale (one of the new Champions recruits). When I first began listening to the audiobook I wasn't completely sold on Marlo's Fatale, but it definitely grew on me. Boehmer's Doctor Impossible was fantastic from the get go - an evil twinge, but with the sad (pathetic?) undertones that mirror his life story.
My only complaint is in the pacing of the story. It took me quite a bit of time to get to the "don't-want-to-put-it-down moment. There was a lot of build-up to the end that could have been evened out a bit more.
I wasn't as impressed with Dragonfly in Amber as I was with Outlander. Though I enjoyed it, I did have a few issues with it.
The political intrigue was too much. It was well researched, I appreciate Gabaldon's ability to put her characters into a more-or-less historically accurate conflict and I did enjoy the overarching story, but the time in France dragged. Once the story moved on into Scotland, it picked up quite a bit and I didn't want to put it down, but until then I wasn't driven to be reading it all the time.
The viewpoints changed quite a bit during the story, which was both distracting and disorienting. In 1968 we have Claire's first-person narration and a third-person narration centered on Roger that allows us to get inside his head a bit and get a perspective of Claire outside of her head. In the 1700s it is primary Claire's first-person narration with some odd third-person narrations. Including a third-person narration in which 'he [Jamie] is thinking about his wife [Claire],' a scene where I had to rewind to see who he and his wife were.
I'll definitely continue with the series, I hear Voyager is better than Dragonfly in Amber, so we'll see. :)
Dragonfly in Amber is another excellent performance by Davina Porter. She has great talent for accents and voices, which bring each character alive. The only oddity was Brianna's American accent.
The only problem with this audiobook was in the shifting perspectives; it was difficult at times to grasp who was speaking or who's point of view the story was in.
Orson Scott Card never ceases to amaze me in the questions he tackles in his writing.
In The Worthing Chronicle, Jason Worthing comes to a small village where Lared resides and asks him to write his story. As Lared writes we learn of two worlds - Capitol and Worthing. It is through Jason's story that Card explores the reasons why a god would leave their children unprotected when they have the power to provide lives full of happiness and devoid of pain, the power of corruption, and the obstacles of creating a peaceful and just human society.
The anthology continues with Tales of Capitol - which introduces more of the world of Capitol and its inhabitants and explores the affect of the sleep drug Somec that allows rich or successful members of society to sleep for years at a time, the corrupt society Somec created and the people people and relationships that are affected by it.
The anthology concludes with Tales from the Forest of Waters, which explores some of Jason Worthing's descendants who live on the world of Worthing.
The stories really made me think and offered some interesting insights on human nature. If you're into this type of thing, it's definitely worth a read.
The audiobook version was narrated by Scott Brick. He is one of my favorite audiobook narrators and he did not disappoint in his reading of The Worthing Saga.
The short stories were narrated by different narrators, whose names I can't seem to locate anywhere at the moment, but they were all well read and realized by the narrators.
I can't exactly put into words how I felt about this Murakami short, besides saying that I found it quite strange and it definitely didn't inspire me to pick up and read the rest of the book.
John Chancer was an average narrator, I didn't notice anything particularly memorable about his performance.
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