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Tango

Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

Texas

ratings
517
REVIEWS
153
FOLLOWING
13
FOLLOWERS
295
HELPFUL VOTES
1473

  • Space Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 50 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (51)

    Is it space travel that children dream of, or merely visiting other worlds? Todd had always set his heart on being an astronaut, but when he meets an alien and travels to another world, he doesn't use a spaceship; he just hangs out in his own back yard.

    Paul says: "Short and Strange"
    "Nice entertainment "snack""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What other book might you compare Space Boy to and why?

    This Card short story actually reminded me a lot of some Heinlein's early books for teens - a young anti-hero with a bit of sci-fi/fantasy mixed in.


    What does Stefan Rudnicki bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Stefan Rudnicki made the story a lot of fun - I think this was more entertaining because the reader was good than it might have been just reading it for myself.


    Any additional comments?

    The Sale price made this a great buy. Orson Scott Card is much better with a longer format, but Space Boy makes for a nice little OSC snack.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Mann: The Afterlife and Times of the Devil's Acquisitor Ad Infinitum

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By John Byron
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    My name is Marten Mann. I work for the devil, or the prince of lies, as you people are so fond of calling him. Yes. You read that last line correctly. I am employed by the powers of evil as acquisitor ad infinitum. I did not seek out this job: I was chosen for the position. To put it in simpler terms, I am a broker of sorts - you know, the guy who finds out what it is that you want the most. I make it readily available to you for a price. I think we all know just how costly that one thing that you think you need so much can be.

    Tango says: "I'm not a believer"
    "I'm not a believer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After I finished Mr. Mann, I was left just scratching my head and wondering, "What was the point of this and what are all those rave reviews about?" This fantasy novel uses a religious base for world-building and since mythology and religion are often used as the launching point for fantasy, that made sense. The religious mores used are kind of a combination of the monotheist religions (heaven/hell, one God, one Satan), some Hindu/Buddhist teachings (reincarnation), with a touch of Puritanism (work righteousness, no salvation through grace) thrown in. Since this is a fantasy novel and not a theological treatise, I'm fine with mixing different theologies and adding some new ones (humans were created by angels and the breath of human life coming from the sacrifice of one special angel), but I still expect a fantasy world to be consistent and have internal logic and Mr. Mann came up short there.

    Marten Mann is recruited by Abaddon (Satan) to gather souls from among the living. Marten finds his targets by reading their auras and targets the blackest souls that he finds. His pitch is, "You are already damned. You've done such horrible things so you are going to hell. But if you sign my contract, you can have anything you want for the next 20 years before you are consigned to the flames." Big surprise - most people sign, but there is major puzzlement in this process:

    1. If you are already damned, why wouldn't you sign - you have nothing to lose! Usually when a story is about selling your soul to the devil, the assumption is that you haven't already lost it.
    2. If you are already damned, why is the devil bothering to recruit you and give you something you want - sounds like he already has you for free.
    3. If you know you are damned and you have "one last wish", why not wish for redemption or a clean aura or something that would negate your damnation?
    4. Marten learns that reincarnation is available to all, even the damned, so anybody who doesn't make it to heaven on the first try (apparently most don't), will get as many chances as necessary. OK, so what is the point of hell and why bother with those contracts??

    In addition to this central strange tenet of the contracts that didn't make any sense, there are other inconsistencies that I found odd and confusing:
    1. Marten says he can read an aura and tell how good or bad a person is, but he is badly mistaken at one point (spoilers to give more detail) and the reason for that is never explained.
    2. Marten could read auras as a living human, but after death, his ability is greatly enhanced - as an Aquisitor, Marten actually knows exactly what you did to get your blackish aura until he doesn't. After "reading" his marks in detail through most of the book, he meets a Vietnamese woman and has no idea why she is damned. No explanation for why he loses the ability with that one woman.
    3. Marten is a man given to violent rages and anger and when you get his backstory, that facet of his personality is fairly understandable. However, he is also supposedly a man of great empathy and compassion, yet he admits to beating other children growing up just because they were different or he didn't like them and he lives a greedy, selfish life until he dies. So he only found his empathy and compassion after death?
    4. After being told that there is no path to redemption other than living a good enough life through however many incarnations that takes, a group of people suddenly find heaven through - wait for it - forgiveness. I love the concept, but this runs completely counter to everything that was previously lined out for Byron's "world".

    In the end I thought the characters in Mr. Mann were interesting and the story wasn't boring, but the "magic system" is inconsistent and confusing and the conclusion was pretty limp. I felt like John Byron used Mr. Mann more as a vehicle to comment on religion, culture, and rock music than to tell a great story or make a concise point.

    Todd McLaren did a good job with narration and I would definitely listen to him again. He had a lot of nice character voices, although the women from Vietnam seem to sound a bit more Italian than Pacific Rim.

    In real life, theology may be inconsistent, but the inconsistency doesn't work well in a fiction novel since it stymies the process of suspending disbelief.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • London Falling

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Paul Cornell
    • Narrated By Damian Lynch
    Overall
    (144)
    Performance
    (133)
    Story
    (132)

    Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect, Rob Toshack, is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. But nothing about Toshack’s murder is normal. Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindictive entity, whose occult powers kept Toshack one step ahead of the law - until his luck ran out. Now, the team must find a 'suspect' who can bend space and time and alter memory itself. And they will kill again.

    Andreas says: "Coopers meets the occult; interesting clash"
    "Team Quill"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was a little hesitant to pick up one more urban noir fantasy set in London having already read Peter Grant, Alex Verus, Felix Castor, and Courts of Feyre - all UNF series set in or around London. However, London is 2000 years old and packed with history so I finally decided the city could probably support one more. Good decision, me! After listening to London Falling, I decided that London actually could support several more UNF series if there are more writers like Paul Cornell.

    The Publisher's Summary is quite sufficient to give you a flavor of this tale and get you started, however, I will note an explanation of one thing that confused me at the outset in case it might help someone else. The story begins with two detectives, Costain and Sefton, undercover attempting to bust a mob boss, Rob Toshack. DI James Quill (Costain's and Sefton's boss) has a brief meeting with Costain in a men's room to give him instructions. The very beginning of the book was a bit confusing to me because I didn't quite understand who were the bad guys, who were the police, and how they were interacting. Part of this is because Damian Lynch uses a very authentic accent for the seedier types of London, which nicely sets the tone of the book, but makes for a challenge for American ears. You have to get the rhythm of that accent before you can really understand what is being said and who is saying it. I would encourage you to stay with it, because once you get clear (it only takes about 15 minutes), this gritty, history-soaked tale really takes off.

    There are several things in this series that make it unique and bear special mention:

    1. I like urban noir fantasy, especially when the dark stories are offset a bit with humor and good characters. London Falling has both - no LOL, but lots of wry, ironic moments and believable, fleshed out characters.

    2. Unlike most UNF, there is no one central wizard, mage, or necromancer. If fact, in the beginning, there are no magic-wielders on the protagonist side at all. Each of the four central protagonists has a backstory that draws him/her into the mystery and each has certain talents that are enhanced and informed by one moment that the four share while trying to solve the case. From that point, although Quill is "in charge", the four members of the team are equal and essential to the resolution of the mystery. So, this is a "team" series rather than another "lone wolf" escapade.

    3. London Falling is very dark and truly gritty. Unlike several authors I have read recently, Cornell seems to understand that gritty and vulgar are not synonyms. There isn't much coarse language or lewdness in London Falling, but there is a deep creepiness that makes London Falling read more like some horror mysteries than like other UNF novels.

    I have continued this series with the next book, The Severed Streets, and there were lots more surprises and another story utilizing the loooooong, crazy history of London. And, once you adjust your ears to Damian Lynch, I think you'll enjoy this narrator, too.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tabula Rasa

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Kristen Lippert-Martin
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd
    Overall
    (305)
    Performance
    (270)
    Story
    (269)

    The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

    Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

    The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why…

    "This is a snap-the-whip story, dark and fast. The sparks of humor in the voice won me over. Bottom line: I think the cocktail of suspense and believable smart-assery adds up to an addictive dose of reader appeal." —Blythe Woolston, author of the William C. Morris Award winner The Freak Observer

    Tango says: "Definitely YA"
    "Definitely YA"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tabula Rasa starts with an interesting concept - controlling behavior by tampering with the memory of violent offenders or other people who might just be in the way. Unfortunately, the story slides quickly into standard YA tropes - evil doctors and corporate types; unbelievably intrepid, super smart teenagers fighting the system; a lot of teenage angst/anguish and a dopey love story; and contrived conflict during a long and rather tedious takeover of a hospital/lab.

    Tabula Rasa isn't a hard science sci-fi, but touches on biological sciences and computer science. The biological science isn't bad; we already have a lot of research going on in the study of memory and drugs and techniques that can impact that. However, the computer science here is pretty lame. At one point, one of our intrepid teens hacks into a state of the art encrypted mainframe with a wireless tablet - uh, yeah, right. One other small issue for me; the author makes a big deal about a young male character being much less attractive when he put his glasses on and he had to put his glasses on because his contacts were knocked out. A. No excuse for ugly glasses these days - have you noticed the amazing designer frames out there, Ms. Lippert-Martin?, and B. His contacts were knocked out? Catch up - almost impossible to knock out soft contacts and EVERYONE wears soft contacts. The days of having your contacts knocked out ended about 30 years ago as I can attest having worn contacts for 40 years. Not a big deal, just a personal irritant with this part of the book.

    Kate Rudd did a good job with narration and if you loved Hunger Games or Divergent, you might enjoy Tabula Rasa more than I did. Wasn't bad for the sale price, but I wouldn't recommend using a credit on this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Darker Shade of Magic: A Darker Shade of Magic, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By V. E. Schwab
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    Kell is one of the last Travelers - magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes. As such, he can choose where he lands. There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there's Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. There's White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne.

    Tango says: "Shades of Gray Magic - This one's a bit dull"
    "Shades of Gray Magic - This one's a bit dull"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Victoria Schwab starts this high fantasy with a great concept. Four parallel worlds whose only commonality is a central city called London. When Black London is consumed by magic, all the other Londons are sealed off from each other to prevent the spread of the consumption leaving only the Antari who can travel between the 3 remaining Londons. Oh, and there are only two Antari left. One of the Antari, Kell, travels regularly between the Londons delivering messages between the monarchs and doing a bit of smuggling on the side. But Kell's side job leads him into a trap that sets up the plot and introduces him to Lilah who joins him in the adventure.

    I think this basic scenario could have been developed into a really interesting tale, but that potentiality is NOT realized. First, it takes a full 4+ hours for the book to progress to the real starting point; more than four hours to find out almost nothing more than I just wrote in that first paragraph! Schwab writes with some classy, lyrical prose, but just doesn't really say much. She is downright stingy with information so you get a lot of description, but little understanding about the characters, the magic system, or the point of anything.

    The two Antari, Kell and Holland, seem like they might be interesting, but Schwab seems to want to keep these two so mysterious that you don't get a chance to know them. It's hard to invest in characters you don't know. Lila has a lot more personality, but she's hardly likable. A cut-purse and occasional cut-throat, she's very cavalier about taking a life.

    Steven Crossley has a nice voice, clear diction, and decent character voices (fitting accent for Lilah especially). Only one minor bone to pic with the narration. Crossley uses a rather rough voice for the character of Kell which made me picture a man of 35 - 45, but Kell is actually very young. I was shocked to remember this a couple of times when the author referred to the character as a youth or a young man because I kept picturing him as much older due to Crossley's voicing of the character.

    Ultimately, I spent 11+ hours with these characters and this story and just never got engaged - at all.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Finn Fancy Necromancy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Randy Henderson
    • Narrated By Todd Haberkorn
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of 15 and exiled to the Other Realm for 25 years. But now that he's free, someone--probably the same someone--is trying to get him sent back. Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world and find evidence to prove it to the Arcane Enforcers. They are going to be very hard to convince since he's already been convicted of trying to kill someone with dark magic.

    Tango says: "Witty New Fantasy Voice"
    "Witty New Fantasy Voice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When Finn Fancy showed up in my Audible recommendations, I didn't pay much attention for a while because I never heard of Randy Henderson or the narrator, Todd Haberkorn, and the cover art and title made me think it might be too silly. After all, everyone and his dog seems to think he can write fantasy and a lot of it is drivel. But I finally picked this one up when I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to hear and wow - I LOVED THIS BOOK and I really loved the narration, too!

    The story starts with the release of Finn from exile where he has been for 25 years having been sentenced to having his spirit separated from his body for a magical crime where he was the fall guy. The story flows from there with Finn's determined pursuit to find the truth about who set him up, why that was done, and who is still out to get him.

    One of the things I liked best about the story is that Finn, although he has some magical abilities, is such a regular Joe. He loves his family, but doesn't always like them or get along with them; he wants to find love, but doesn't recognize it when it sneaks up on him; he has work to rid himself of prejudices he was taught when he was young. And this poor guy has to face all those regular human challenges and some major magical challenges while he has just jumped physically, mentally, and emotionally from being 15 to being 40!

    There was nothing I didn't like about Finn Fancy and so much I loved so I'll just list a few:

    * Great prose, much better than most fantasy writers and I particularly like the many clever similes that Henderson throws around. One example:"To know I'd helped to make him so unhappy, made me feel like I had beaten a unicorn to death with a Care Bear in front of a small child."

    * Good World Building. This story is low fantasy - magical elements integrated into our world with most non-magical people (Mundanes or Mundies) being unaware - but most of the plot takes place on the magical side with mostly magical characters. Henderson lets his world unfold naturally with the plot progression so there are no info-dumps, but also very little time when the reader is confused.

    * Fun 80's nostalgia. If you were born early enough to remember the 80's you'll get a kick out of the references to old TV shows (a lot of great Trekker references incorporated here), movies, slang, and miscellany (remember the Commodore 64 anyone?). Henderson has a lot of fun with our hero having to leap the big technology gap from then to now.

    * Nice characterizations and realistic relationships between characters.

    * Both witty and suspenseful. It's a tricky line for a writer to use some dark and suspenseful themes mixed with some comedy relief, but Henderson does this really well. So there is a good mystery with a twisty resolution in this story, but a lot of engaging funny moments and a great deal of wit that keeps the story lighter and fun..And, for all that I am usually a fan of snarky humor, most of the wit in Finn Fancy is much more gentle and leans to clever rather than snarky and that was a nice change of pace.

    So, I've found a new writer I love, but I've also stumbled on a narrator I really enjoyed as well. I initially thought that Todd Haberkorn sounded a bit nerdy and then I realized - that's the character. Finn is a bit of nerd and Haberkorn not only captures him well, but finds a great voice for every other character in the novel (including women and girls). Really nice performance for a really fun novel.

    This is Randy Henderson's debut novel which explains why I hadn't heard of him before. I sure hope to hear a LOT more from him in the future.



    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Night of the Living Deed

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By E.J. Copperman
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (994)
    Performance
    (911)
    Story
    (910)

    Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.

    Felicia The Geeky Blogger says: "Had a blast listening to this one!"
    "The Ghosts and Ms. Kirby"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This paranormal murder mystery is a little light on suspense and the ghosts aren't all that interesting either. Might have a bit more appeal for those who like those genres and enjoy DIY (lots of home renovation action here) and precocious (i.e. sassy, irritating) children - neither of which are big favorites for me. This the first of a series of mystery books that will continue these characters and I think there might be some potential for future episodes to be more interesting. Copperman can be amusing, although I'd suggest she dial down some of the snarkiness when discussing death threats and truly serious issues, and she has lined out a decent set of characters in a good setting (small NJ shore town) to expand her plotlines. However, she will need to more fully develop the characters (only Allison has much back story so far) and their relationships with each other. Copperman depicts each of these relationships as simplistic one-note interactions - each exchange between Allison and her ghosts, her daughter, her mom, the main police officer, her best friend are exactly the same. With all that said, I didn't hate the book - I got it on sale and it was a decent "beach read" - no thinking required and sometimes humorous. In addition, Amanda Ronconi is always good to listen to and did a nice job with some of the character voices, especially the cop and the newspaper owner. I won't be quick to pick up more in the series, but if I need a light read again, I might try another.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The Millennium Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stieg Larsson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24845)
    Performance
    (11301)
    Story
    (11378)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: How do you one-up a book that’s already a global literary phenomenon? Hire Simon Vance to (flawlessly) interpret the loves, lives, and murders of Sweden’s cold and secret-filled world. A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue. It's about the disappearance 40 years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden.

    Pamela Murphy says: "COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN"
    "Getting Ready for Book 4"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although I generally eschew best sellers, I'll admit that I read the Millennium Trilogy not long after the books were published in English and loved them. With the amazing character of Lisbeth Salander and the dark and twisty plots, these books are hard to put down once you pick them up. And since they are long books, reading Stieg Larsson means you have to hide out from family and friends for days at a time which is something my life just doesn't allow too often. But when I heard that a fourth book in the series will be published in August of this year, I knew I wanted to re-read the trilogy first. So, I decided to buy the audiobooks and re-visit my friend with the dragon tattoo in a way that doesn't make me give up the rest of my life.

    I can't add much to the many reviews of the books this late in the game, so I will just review the audio experience for anyone like me who has read the books and wondered if it was worth 3 credits to buy the audiobooks. IMHO - YES! If you haven't read the books in at least 2 - 3 years, you probably won't remember a lot of the details even though you might remember the basic plot lines so the story still felt fresh and surprising to me the second time around. And, if you are going to spend 55+ hours listening to a narrator, you want the best and you will get it. Simon Vance is tough to beat - I loved every minute of listening to him. He gives each character a unique and believable voice and maintains the narrative flow perfectly through these long suspenseful stories.

    Swedish author, David Lagercrantz, is writing the fourth book in the franchise and although he will be using the established characters, he will not be working from Larsson's notes. It's hard to believe that the fourth book will be as good, but I am sure I will read it and just hope another writer can capture some of the magic that Larsson put into the original three.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Living Low Carb: Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Jonny Bowden
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (93)

    Whether you're searching for a practical weight-loss program, simply want to eat better, or are already a committed low-carber looking for ways to make the lifestyle work for you, nutritionist Jonny Bowden reveals the secrets to finding and sticking with a healthy controlled-carb program. This newly revised and updated edition covers the truth about low-carbohydrate diets and reveals the major culprits in a high-carb diet, as well as provides invaluable ratings of the diet programs on the market.

    Carol C. Buchalter says: "Informative, amusing, and very well read"
    "Thanks to low carb and Audible I'm 45 lbs slimmer!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love to read almost anything except diet books. However, 2 years ago having developed microscopic colitis and some big-time middle age spread, I picked up Wheat Belly on sale on Audible and that started me on changing my diet to that point that I have now lost 45 lbs and cured my colitis when none of the expensive drugs did! I got some major help from another excellent audiobook, The Big Fat Surprise, and really just designed my own plan to eliminate wheat and sugar and reduce overall carbs. Now that I am back in my 6's, I very much want to maintain this weight and my colon health so I thought I'd see if I could get some maintenance advice from Living Low Carb and I was very pleased with what I heard. Jonny Bowden does a great job of reviewing a whole slew of low carb plans, but he also provides some good advice on how to jazz up your meals if you are getting bored and how to adjust the components of your diet/exercise/lifestyle to maintain or restart the losing if you hit a plateau. I've spent my whole life believing in low fat as the way to lose weight and I've also spent my whole adult life fighting to stay slim. I was slow to accept the low carb approach, but it is hard to argue with success! My personal experience leads me to believe that low carb is healthier (at least for the colon) and although it is hard to give up the sugar, getting back a little fat (butter, olive oil, cream, coconut oil - all the things that make food so yummy) has more than made up for that for me. I'm so glad Audible made these books available because I might have missed out on something that truly has changed my life. There are so many approaches to low carb that you can probably find one that will fit your lifestyle and Jonny Bowden reviews almost all of them in this book. Check it out if you are searching or if you just need some tips and tricks to stay motivated on the plan you have.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Alphabet House

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    Overall
    (432)
    Performance
    (387)
    Story
    (387)

    British pilots James Teasdale and Bryan Young have been chosen to conduct a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresden, Germany. Intelligence believes the Nazis are building new factories that could turn the tide of the war. When their plane is shot down, James and Bryan know they will be executed if captured. With an enemy patrol in pursuit, they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for senior SS soldiers wounded on the eastern front.

    John S says: "Leaped before I looked. Happy I did."
    "Don't start Adler-Olsen here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I accidentally started Adler-Olsen's Department Q series with Book 2 and I was so glad I did because when I later listened to Book 1, the narrator made me crazy and I had to read it in print. Having read/listened to the Dept. Q books available on Audible, I eagerly picked up The Alphabet House and there is a lot to admire here, but it is not nearly as satisfying to listen to as the Department Q books. This book was first published in Danish in 1997, about a decade before the first of the Dept Q books and you can definitely see the change that 10 years made in Adler-Olsen's writing with the biggest difference being in the characterizations.

    Brian and James are two English flyers shot down in World War II. They manage to escape capture and finesse their way into German military hospital to try to survive. Challenging under any circumstances, but especially tough when only James speaks German. The first part of the book detailing their travails in the mental ward of the SS hospital is fascinating and was clearly well researched, but then the book shifts 30 years and kind of loses its impetus and clarity. I found part 2 difficult to get through because it is fairly clear early on what will happen, but it takes a very long time to get there. Repeated threats to the protagonist might have been more suspenseful except that I didn't ever really connect with these characters. Former SS officers are the villains of the book and there is no subtlety in these guys - they are just plain evil to the core. There is more shading to the other characters, but I didn't relate to them or feel much for them. That stands in sharp contrast to the Department Q characters that I connected with almost immediately and am always happy to meet again in each subsequent book. Ultimately, The Alphabet House is quite interesting, but just not as satisfying as Adler-Olsen's other books.

    Graeme Malcolm provided a nice narration of this book and did a great job with all the German names and places.

    Ultimately, I am not sorry to have read The Alphabet House and if you are already an Adler-Olsen fan, you will probably like it. However, if you have not read this author yet, pick up Book Two of the Department Q series, The Absent One, first. It's a great book and a great audiobook and will give you a better idea of what Adler-Olsen can really do.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappeared: A Retrieval Artist Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Kristine Kathryn Rusch
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (483)
    Performance
    (309)
    Story
    (315)

    Retrieval Artists help the lost find their way back home, whether they like it or not. Specialized private detectives, they investigate the most unusual crimes in the galaxy. But Miles Flint isn't a Retrieval Artist. He's just a cop, trying to do his job.

    Phelix_da_Kat says: "Sprint finish.."
    "All the elements of "stellar" fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am late to the Retrieval Artist banquet, but happily pigging out now! There are many deserved good reviews for The Disappeared so I'd be tempted not to take the time, but I enjoyed this book so much that I just have to add my plaudits to both Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Jay Snyder, the narrator, as well as my thanks to Audible for bringing this to me.

    If I rated this book as a police procedural/detective mystery, I'd probably rate it 4.5 stars - police procedural believable and fairly interesting, mystery nicely plotted, very clever, and a little twisty, but not as sophisticated as some. If I rated this book as strictly science fiction, I would probably rate it as 4.5 stars also - terrific detailed world building, no big science blunders, but little hard science. However, The Disappeared is much more than a Sci-Fi Detective Mystery; it is a book that has all the elements for seriously great fiction. When you combine that with top-notch narration from Jay Snyder, you have an audio book that I could hardly stand to it turn off - truly stellar!

    * Engaging, believable characters. Men and women who have unique personalities that extend beyond body type or looks; varying levels of intelligence, talents,and flaws; complex emotional and psychological make-ups; diverse backgrounds, ages, and socio-economic levels. It's tough to write good fiction in any genre without good characters and yet it is especially difficult to find good characterizations in science fiction - particularly for female characters.

    * Interesting plot - science fiction lends itself to good plots which is one of the reasons I like the genre, but much of it is about colonization and/or battles. I have enjoyed many space exploration type plots, but Rusch's plotting is more about the challenges of life after the initial survival hurdles have been made in space and it was a nice change of pace.

    * Setting - The Disappeared takes place primarily in the domed city of Armstrong on the Moon, but Rusch also lines out the politics and the aliens across known colonized space. Her descriptions of Armstrong made me feel like I was there.

    * Prose - evocative, but not effusive; truly readable and keeps the story moving.

    * Themes - I think all good fiction has to be entertaining, but not all fiction has to give "food for thought". But, if a fictional story makes you think that's a big bonus and there's plenty to ruminate on in The Disappeared. We already know that human societies enact and enforce laws differently. (There are Americans imprisoned in various places around the world for doing things that would not be illegal in the USA.) In Rusch's universe with multiple alien peoples, there is a group that finds death so abhorrent that a person who comes in contact with a dead body is subjected to a cleansing ritual that includes evisceration; a group that takes retribution not on the offender but on his/her loved ones; and a group that subjects even minor offenders to hard labor. You could just avoid contact with those groups to stay out of trouble, but what if they have something really marketable (what if North Korean sat on all the world's diamonds or oil)? The capitalism that lives in most human hearts will find a way to trade for something they want even if there is a great risk in doing so. What if what you believe is moral is illegal - and, you are a cop? What if your style works to make you effective at your job, but keeps getting you into political trouble - can you/should you change?

    I listened to two more in The Retrieval Artist series before I could make myself stop to write a review and I am still totally taken with Rusch's writing and her universe. "Retrieverse" keeps expanding in interesting and unusual ways and Flint and DeRicci continue to evolve and grow. As a great topper, Jay Snyder, nice narration/good characterizations, continues as the narrator throughout the series. Most sci-fi enthusiasts will enjoy The Retrieval Artist and most readers who appreciate finely crafted fiction independent of genre should be entertained.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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