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The second book in the Chicagoland Vampires Series starts just after the conclusion of the first. It does more character building and we get more time spent with Merit's family as Ethan wants to make in-roads with some of the prominent Chicago families. We get to learn more about Merit's past, some about Ethan and some others in the house. These are all good things, but the house is treated almost like a Frat/Sorority house with the way it functions, not like the way decades old + vampires should live and act. It's neat, but it gets silly. The antagonist from book 1 is back, and that would have been interesting except that nothing really gets resolved this time around. Something else threatens the house this time around and it's something we've seen before and it just didn't work for me. I gave it 3 stars because I like the world, and I like the Chicago setting, but the series feels more like a TV show where nothing much happens week to week, or in this case book to book. It's not bad, but there's better Urban fiction/Paranormal romance out there. I'm done with Chicagoland Vampires
There's just a few things that I'd change about the book. The amount of information thrown at the reader in the beginning is tremendous. It's overwhelming to a listener. I know the book wasn't written for audio, but I almost want to go back and listen to the first 2 hours to put everything together, now that I understand the story. The pacing at the end being the second. The last 2 hours of this book feels tremendously rushed. There's a TON of events that happen and while I know it builds to a climax, I think that there's too many stories that conclude all at the same time.
I think I would have paced some of the sub-plots more, so that they wouldn't all conclude right near the end of the book. There was a lot happening at once and it was challenging to figure out who's story happened with who and where and why.
I liked his subtle accents for some of the different regions and characters. It wasn't an award winning performance, but it was solid and got the job done. I would listen to another one of his narrations without hesitation. My biggest criticism of him is he reads very slowly.
No, I think Brandon Sanderson told a complete story in this one book. It was a great length and had a beginning, middle and end. I Don't see a need for anything further with these characters.
For a first novel, Brandon Sanderson did a great job. He really developed a world in one book that some authors take multiple books for a world to take shape. He had some great villains, interesting protagonists and stories to tell. I think Sarene is an interesting character, but not the best attempt at a strong female lead. She's a strong character, but the author didn't really develop her strengths. It was more of a strong female lead 101.
A Modern Witch isn't a terrible book. It's a boring book and not for me. That being said, Debora Geary creates a world filled with some interesting characters, but ones that can do no wrong. There's no jealously, conflict, or consequences in the entire book. There's only one part where a character gets mad, but that's rectified by some food. Even 4-year old super witch Aervin speaks like an adult and has nearly god-like powers.
So, what's this book about. It's about friends, family, love, and finding yourself. Main character Lauren is a hot-shot Realtor in Downtown Chicago, who finds out she's a witch. She trains and learns about her powers and how to learn the basics of the witching world where she makes friends with the friends and family of Witch Central. Along with her friend Nat, they navigate her new talents, friends and romance. However, it's all dialogue, with no conflict. Nothing really happens, no villains, no conflict, no risks. It's a slice of life in this witching world. It's a fine book, but there's no real plot, it's just a group of people. It's a change of pace from what I normally read or listen to. I won't listen to more of this series, there's too many other stories out there with risk to the characters, but I think this is suited for someone who wants a happy story about love, family, friends, kids, ice cream, and happiness.
I'll be glad to not hear witchlings or brother-mine for quite a long time.
Martha Harmon Pardee's narration feels like your favorite aunt reading a bedtime story to you. She doesn't nail every accent in the book, but her Irish and West-coast accents are pretty good, but her Boston one isn't.
A Modern Witch is a sweet read, but it's not for me.
The final book in the Lost Fleet series sees the Syndicate Worlds fall and a potential new threat arise. This was an OK book. It didn't do a whole lot new, we have more space battles, we have some political bantering all of which has been done before in the series. The fleet battle wasn't anything special, we'd seen it all before, and the tension was elsewhere in this book. The Syndics weren't much of a threat as their fleet had been destroyed, but there were some interesting tensions between the Alliance fleet and the situation that they Syndic leaders put them in. It was fun, but it wasn't groundbreaking. The resolution and ending was fitting for our Fleet Admiral and Captain. Again, it wasn't unexpected, but it was done in a fun way.
Narration was solid, but that's nothing new for the series. None of the characters really stood out. Tulev and Bidea have probably the best accents in the series.
Overall it's a good book, and if you're invested in the series you owe it to yourself to finish it off.
Below is a review and summary of my thoughts on the entire series, since it was so long, it felt appropriate to summarize my thoughts on the whole series.
The Lost Fleet is overall a solid sci-fi series. It's a six book series, but it could easily have been a four book series. Four books would have taken some fleet engagements out, and tightened up the story, it felt like some of the middle books (mainly 3 and 4) contained a lot of filler. I thinkt he weakest book in the series is book 3, and the strongest is book 5.
The characters are a mixed bag. On one hand they're interesting, Geary is rescued after a century in an escape pod from the start of the war with the Syndicate Worlds. Tonya Desjani is the fearless leader of the fleet flagship Dauntless. Victoria Rihonne is a politician on the ship as a Diplomat on a failed diplomatic mission with the Syndics. We get to meet a few other characters that get developed, but there are hundreds of other fleet personnel that we never get to meet or learn anything about. We only really get into the heads of maybe 8 to 10 characters. Even those characters are somewhat one dimensional. Geary is the reluctant hero. Rihonne is the politican who has her own spies, secrets and more. Desjani is convinced Geary was sent by the gods to save the fleet. There's some adversaries within the fleet who either have no morals, or some twisted morals. The fleet itself is a character because of so many nameless characters. The fleet's charge first with honor has lead to countless casualties in the fleet.
From a story standpoint, it's a bit long in the tooth, but it's a good read. Geary is the "Reborn Hero" who is lead to lead the Alliance into greatness. At least that's what a lot of the fleet believes. Geary was rescued from Survival sleep after nearly a century after the war between the Syndicate Worlds began. Geary leads the fleet on a retreat from the Syndicate home star system. Fleet battles ensue with the Syndics as the Alliance makes their way back home. Some battles are more exciting than others. There's a few encounters that require the Marines accompanying the fleet to have ground engagements against the Syndics. Those are too few in the series. They're pretty exciting and well thought out. I enjoyed the Marines and their dedication to the Alliance and not any one individual. Perhaps some of the most interesting conflicts are not between the Alliance and Syndics, but involving the Alliance and the individual conflict between ship commanders and different factions within the fleet. Factions range from those who want Geary to become a military dictator, to those who want Geary dead so they can become a dictator. Other smaller factions exist to undermine Geary, but most don't pose much of a threat.
Christian Rummell does a pretty good job of telling the story with his voice and reading all the different characters. My only concern is his tone changes between books 4 and 5. He also changes the way he says Auxiliaries. At first he used the term AuxillEaries, but in book five it becomes Auxiliaries. I'm not sure why the change was put in so far into the series, but it is what it is.
Overall, the series is a good one, and I enjoyed listening to it. It's not a masterpiece, but it was fun. It could have been told in 4 books, but I may check out the Beyond the Frontier series at some point.
It's been a long journey home for Black Jack and the Alliance fleet. This is my favorite book in the series so far. Relentless is filled with more than just ship battles. There's a ton of political maneuvering by factions within the fleet. Betrayal, heartbreak, and more are in the book. If you were starting to feel a little worn out by this series, Relentless is a huge shot in the arm. As the fleet nears home, the Syndics prepare for a last stand. The fleet faces it's toughest challenge yet as the internal strife comes to a head, and fleet supplies dwindle.
My favorite parts of the book are easily the fleet conferences. Usually they're boring and standard meetings, but in Relentless, they really get into a lot of the motivations of different characters. That along with the marine operations, really shine in this book.
The fleet actions are standard fare along the lines of the last few books, exciting, but nothing we haven't heard before.
I will say, Christian Rummel was either off point, or the studio it was recorded in got some new equipment because the mix was different than books 1-4. He also pronounced some words differently which takes some of the immersion in the story out. It's still a great book and a MUST read if you're into the series.
The journey to Alliance Space continues to takes its physical and mental toll on fabled hero Black Jack Geary. This book is solid entry into the series, and we're beginning to see the toll it's taking on the leaders of the Fleet from the different starship captains as well as John Geary. We get to see more of the same in terms of the flow of the way the books go. Travel to new system, battle, resupply and move on. There's more of that, but there's also a shift in the way the Syndic forces appear to the Alliance. Geary's actions have begun to affect the psyche of the Syndicate worlds citizens. There are also new threats that the crew must contend with, some within the Alliance and some outside.
Book 4 was a much better book than book 3 in the series. Valiant gives us the opportunity to build upon what the first few books only hinted at in terms of crew relations, the Syndics and the mounting tolls on our hero.
Christian Rummel's performance was solid as usual and he remained engaged to delivering a solid performance without becoming bored with such a long series. If book 3 was a letdown for you, book 4 does much of the same, but there was enough here to make me want to see finish the journey home.
Vlad and Leila have had their ups and downs. This book is no exception. This book follows the formula of the other books in the series, with kidnapping, escapes, near death experiences betrayal and more. Things heat up very quickly with Szialgyi launching an attack and capturing Leila again. Things go from bad to worse for Leila, but eventually some allies arrive to aid in the rescue.
There's a lot of good things in this book that Ms. Frost does well, from cameo appearances, to a primer on marriage and relationships to heartbreak and an ending that'll make you smile.
The book isn't perfect, having Leila be kidnapped yet again isn't really new or exciting, but it does serve to move the plot forward. Tavia Gilbert delivers one of her best performances. She was spot on with everything from the heartache, to the love and comedic scenes throughout the book. Bound by Flames doesn't tread a not of new ground for our couple, but it does leave the door open for the opportunities for our couple to experience new and exciting adventures.
We did NOT finish this book, it was too painful. We did finish the first half of the book however. It's not that we're against smut, sex or kink, but the novel needs to have a cohesive plot, and not just a series of scenes that lead into sex. I'm picking my pants up from your dojo, let's have sex. I'm having a party and you showed up uninvited, let's have sex. I mean really, the characters were just thrown together in a series of random events. The sex felt more vulgar than hot and steamy. Nothing worked for us, and we were glad to stop.
From a narration standpoint, it was bad. The characters weren't brought to life and it sounded as if Amery was Asian one minute and not the next. The same went for Ronin. She tried to give Amery's parents a North Dakotan accent and it sounded nothing like any standard accent from the plains. I can't in good conscience recommend this to anyone.
The Company is an epic undertaking both for the listener and the author. It covers all the major events in the cold war. From the events in the fifties in Budapest, to the rise of Boris Yeltsin, Littell weaves a tale that manages to engage the audience. Every flash-point in the book is exciting from the build-up through the successes and failures for both the US and the Soviet team. Characters on both sides are likable and despicable. It's a well balanced novel and the different events are also supported by an overarching mystery with characters who grow and age throughout.
Scott Brick does an amazing job and this may be one of the best books I've ever listened to. He does a great job with both bringing the characters to life and giving them an accent that fits. He uses different dialects for each region the story takes place and it fits.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in either the Cold War or the CIA. It's long, but it keeps the plot moving and is definitely worth the price of admission.
Being a fan of Molly's Jane Jameson and Naked Werewolf series, my wife and I were pretty excited with the prospects of a stand-alone novel. It wasn't a great experience.
There's some great positives in the book. The protagonists are one of them. From Nina the Landscape architect, Deacon the rich homeowner, to Cindy the cleaner etc. They are pretty fun and likeable characters. They all get some different points of view for us to follow, while Nina and Deacon are the biggest focus, the rest do get their own time to shine.
The setting is pretty cool. It's a private island with a mansion known as the Crane's Nest. Deacon's great great grandparents built the home, and his great great grandmother was killed there. There's a bit of a mystery around the murder, and there are some general assumptions made about who did it. There are some great descriptions of both the mansion and the hauntings.
The biggest issue we found was with the hauntings themselves. They felt out of place, and didn't work. The initial visions and events are ok and entertaining, the later events. It takes the fun out of the book. Sure it's kind of creepy, but it breaks the immersion. The other villians dont' work either. Rick seems like an afterthought. He's there at first, then he disappears for most of the book. He doesn't pose a real threat with anyone until the end, which makes sense, but he still feels like an afterthought.
Amanda Ronconi provides her usual high level narration and brings the characters to life.
Overall this is an OK book, but it just doesn't have the same feel as the Jane Jameson and Naked Werewolf books. I hesitate to highly recommend it, but Harper fans will enjoy. It's got some snark, it's still sweet, but the haunting aspect is the biggest weakness in the story and didn't work for us.
Touch the Dark is an OK start in the crowded genre of Paranormal Romance. There's some real interesting elements with her circles of magi and vampires, were's, and Ms. Palmer the clairvoyant. She does a great job of building the world and some of the characters, but the plotting of the story needs some work. She tells the story well enough, but the story doesn't end with the book. The book ends like it's the end of a chapter. It's not that it's a cliffhanger, it's an incomplete story and the editors didn't make her finish the story. That's just unacceptable. There's some good romance and the author starts turning the heat up and teases the audience throughout.
From a narration standpoint, Ms. Holloway is pretty good in the Chicagoland Vampires series, but she is very hit or miss in this book. Her accents for the European characters are bad, and Cassandra's voice goes from OK to what happened throughout the story. I think she does the best with Billy's voice, but that's not saying much in this case.
Overall, it's got some good hooks, and if you can get past M.s Holloway's performance, there's enough meat in the story for us to want book 2, it's just a shame that she didn't tell a complete story in this book.
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