Okay, I must be a sline according to an earlier reviewer because I just don't get it. I stopped listening before my brain exploded. I couldn't decide if the author was writing a serious novel or a tongue-in-cheek satire. He starts out with an explanation of why he's going to call a non carrot a carrot (because it is hard to translate the vegetable) then he introduces a new noun for almost everything else in existence. Could it be that carrot is the only word that survived all those millennia. Such a sad state of affairs if that is true. Stephenson obviously writes for an audience well versed in math and physics. And it feels like he is letting the rest of us know that we are not smart enough to understand what he is saying. I don't like being condescended to by an author.
While the author is an excellent writer and does a good job of weaving storylines together, I was frustrated when I finished listening to The Various Haunts of Men. I can't reveal my biggest frustrations without revealing important plot points so I will focus on a couple general issues.
I don't understand why this book is called a Simon Serrailler Mystery. Until the final 30 minutes of the 14 hour book, Serrailler is a secondary character who rarely appears. Yet in the very end, when he does become the focus, the author imbues him with a gravitas he doesn't deserve and hasn't earned. The book would have barely changed if he had been edited out.
The author introduces numerous seemingly unrelated storylines, which decrease as some characters are killed off. I found this tiring and confusing because of the rapid change in point of view characters. In general, however, she does bring the story arcs together in a believable way. In addition to the killer, three women, whose stories intersect, become the main characters. But in the end, when Serrailler steps in and the case is wound up, the women become mere footnotes to be summarized is a pseudo epilogue and we never hear from them again.
In fact it is rather strange that for most of the book women are the main and secondary point of view characters but the story ends up in a male point of view.
I hated the ending but I can't tell you why.
The narrator was excellent. I would consider other books he reads. I would have to think hard about another book by the author.
I was surprised I enjoyed this book so much. I have always loved Peter's Cadfel series so I decided to give her Inspector Felse series a try. The story kept me guessing and I didn't figure out who did it until close to the end. Twists and turns kept the story moving. It is a mystery of its time, though, with old fashioned ideas about women and marriage. Simon Prebble is an exceptional narrator. He is perfect for this book.
The narrator of this book was so annoying I almost stopped listening. I'm not sure if my rating would have been higher if I had read the book. The main character's dialogue was so slow I wondered if there was an issue with the speed. But other characters were okay, at least from a speed standpoint. Most of the male characters who were or could be one of the bad guys sounded like old crones. When they were annoyed, they even sounded like the Wicked Witch of the West. The sitcom Italian reading of one character, with sing songy sentences and lots of words ending in "a," was laughable at times.
Bridget Hodgson, the Midwife in the title, is based on an actual person. I understand it is normal in a novel to take liberties with actual happenings in and around a character's life. I felt, however, one of the liberties the author took with Bridget's life was unacceptable. Throughout the book Bridget mourns the loss of her only two children. She doesn't mourn the death of her second husband and there were no surviving children from their brief marriage. According to the author's website, however, Bridget actually had six children with her second husband that survived to the point she named them in her will.
Regarding the story, I didn't like the Bridget. She was flat and uninteresting. Her obsession with forcing unmarried pregnant women to name the father of their bastard children became a problem for me. While I appreciate that Bridget Hodgson is portrayed as a woman of her times, I couldn't come to terms with her lack of compassion for the maid servants who had been raped or taken advantage of by their masters. When Bridget grabbed one young woman around the throat, demanded a name, and groped under her dress to see if she was pregnant, I lost any connection to her I had felt.
A Murder of Crows is an excellent book, and for the most part, I enjoyed listening to it. Sir Robert Carey and Sgt. Dodd are a believable duo. I was fascinated to learn that Robert Carey and his family, as well as all the bad guys, are all historical personages. My criticism is that about 2/3 of the way through, Carey departs for a mission and never reappears. Obviously this is a setup for another book but it happens too early in the story, considering it is "A Sir Robert Carey Mystery." Added to that, there are no more audio books available, though there are four additional paper volumes. I liked it enough I might continue reading the series
Steven Crossley also narrates the Matthew Shardlake series set in same time period. He is one of my favorite narrators.
I love all the Riyria books. After listening to and being addicted to the Riyria Revelations series, I jumped on the audio books for the two prequels in the Riyria Chronicles. And I wasn't disappointed. Michael J. Sullivan has created characters that become like old friends. I think much of this is due to the superb narration of Tim Gerard Reynolds.
Truthfully, I'm not sure I would enjoy reading these books as much as I enjoy listening to them. When Hadrian and Royce speak, I feel as if I know them. When I finished The Rose and the Thorn I went back and listened to all 60+ hours of the Riyria Revelations; the second time was a good as the first.
Unlike some reviewers, I think it is best to read the books in the order they were written. The Riyria Chronicles focus on the backstory of several important but secondary characters in the Revelations series. I think it is more powerful to understand the fate of these characters, such as the Pickerings, Hilfred and Count Albert Winslow, first in the Revelations and discover their backstory later in the Chronicles.
I can't wait for the next book be it prequel or sequel.
Simon Scarrow is a new author for me. I enjoyed the first volume of his Macro and Cato series even though I felt something was missing but I can't actually put a finger on what. Maybe it was the lack of a conclusion, the ending being a setup for the next book, which is not available on Audible. It doesn't make sense to go on to Book 3 when there would be huge gaps in the major storyline.
That said, Macro the Centurion and Cato the Optimo are an appealing duo. I learned a great deal about the structure of the Roman military and Roman politics. The battle scenes are well orchestrated and are violent without being ghoulish. There are a few too many F-bombs considering the word didn't exist at the time but they don't feel inappropriate for the military setting.
David Thorpe is the wonder narrator. He captures each character perfectly.
I won't continue with this series until Book 2 is available.
Both the mystery and Malta are missing. This story could be set anywhere, any time. An almost total lack of detail for setting, clothing, culture, arts, leave the reader ungrounded. If a couple characters didn't mention 1913 and a possible war with Germany, it would be difficult to place the story in any time period. The story is mostly talking heads, Tag lines make up a large part of the text.
The supposed main character, Inspector Seymour from the British Foreign Office, barely appears in the story. The mystery and the murder are overwhelmed by lengthy, repeated stories about village rivalries, bands, sporting events. The revelation of the murderer was
underwhelming. I still don't understand the motive for the murders.
Wonder mashup of popular imagery from children's literature. Funny, frothy, and fresh. Pour it on.
The author is an excellent writer telling an intriguing story. The characters are well defined and appealing. I enjoyed the fact that Lady Harriet and Crowther are not sexually attracted to each other, their partnership is based on curiosity instead of hormones. I enjoyed the imagery emotions evoked by the author.
That said, I found the story structure odd and distracting. The book is broken into several sections, but the reason for the section breaks is unclear. The ending has an "in conclusion" section and an epilogue. The epilogue is actually a prologue and confused me. It is unnecessary. I don't recall the last time, if ever, having an author call out an "in conclusion" to end a story. Isn't the end generally the conclusion? The intermittent backstory flashbacks for a secondary character are also jarring.
I love Wanda McCaddon as a narrator but this reading is my favorite. It is hard to tell if the lack of breaks, or even breathing space, is in her reading, in the writing, or the editing. I suspect, based on the other structural issues in the story, that the author makes abrupt shifts in point of view without scene breaks.
Based on recent best selling books, and this one has the hype to make it a hit, we need to stop blaming just video games for inspiring and celebrating violence. Like the Hunger Games and Divergent series, The Bone Season is soaked in torture, violence, and death. It is a mixed genre: Sci-Fi/Vampire Romance/Steampunk(blame it on the Duke of Clarence)/Dystopia. And it is the first selection of the Today Show's Book Club.
The Bone Season starts with violence and keeps the pace up until the end. It does, however, throw in a vivid romantic arc that will appeal to Twilight fans. Our heroine, Paige, has carnal, almost carnivorous, relations with the Warden, a bad guy with a possible grain of decency. Does it matter that he is a Rephaim, a blood drinking, aura eating, human killing, really mean aether alien? Apparently not. The difference in this series (said to be set for seven books) compared to other popular dystopian melodramas is the apparent absence of any good guys at all, except people tinged with one of a millions forms of clairvoyance (the voyants). But most of them aren't so hot either. Maybe the good guys appear in later volumes.
The story is set 2059 in London and Oxford. The voyants have been suppressed by the totalitarian Scion regime, which has outlawed and imprisoned (or worse) the poor voyants, since 1909 . The Rephaim escaped from the nether realms in 1859 and we learn they have been the power behind the Scion actions. The heroine is a member of a tough gang of voyants, and she isn't afraid to inflict harm or commit crimes. Does the fact the violent gang members seem to also be against the enemy state make them heroes? It is a kill or be killed culture. Paige is hauled off to a top secret prison camp of sorts run by the Rephaim in the abandoned city of Oxford.
The whole clairvoyant (any connection to the spirit world) angle is stretched so far it almost becomes laughable, hence the title of my review. There is a -mancer type for every little thing. I lifted this one from another review: astragalomancer. I have no idea what it means or if it is spelled correctly. Maybe it is easy to grasp all the different levels and types of clairvoyance when reading instead of listening. (Note: the book has a glossary.) The narrator's voice is soft and she doesn't always always enunciate crisply enough to grasp the lists of -mancer types that spurt out on occasion.
Strangely enough, an online review of the book helped me figure out what may actually be going on. I'm not sure if it changed how I feel about the novel and don't think I will read/listen further, but the explanation of the language and names used by the author is helpful. I don't think the casual reader, me included, would have ever figured all of this out.
And finally, for being so smart and feisty, Paige isn't all that bright. There are continued references to red flowers in reference to the Rephaim, and she doesn't connect them to the continued visions of red flowers in her dreamscapes. My prediction for the seven book series is that Paige and the Warden (who is actually Lucifer in human form) will have a mixed aether child (Micheal) who will be able to travel through the various levels of aether. The Rephaim planned the pregnancy because they need Paige's special voyant powers to expand their control over humans; the green pill they have been forcing Paige take is to make her body capable of carrying a Rephaim child to term. It will be revealed that Paige had lived in the prison camp as a small child and had been genetically engineered to be cross bred, Paige will escape with the child and go into hiding to protect it from the mean Rephaim. Ireland will be involved. The child will grow up on the run and in book seven will battle the forces of evil that have escaped through the curtains between the realms in an effort to force the Rephaim and other bad spirits back into the netherworlds.
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