"Marsbound" initially impressed me as a better than average YA sci-fi story; Carmen seemed at first an interesting character to get to know, and the structure of the story recalled many of the Heinlein YA stories that I cut my teeth on, many years ago. Around the time that Carmen was getting acclimated to Mars and Solingen kept getting nastier, I started to chafe at the lack of pace and coherence. I eventually persevered to the end, but by the time I finished it was more of a chore than a pleasure.
Perhaps had I read this book instead of listening to it, I'd have enjoyed it more. Kaplan's narration was just bad. I know I've been spoiled by narrators such as John Lee and the late, lamented Patrick Tull, but I had expected someone who is, after all, a voice actress to do a better job. Her "voice" for Carmen and the overall narration sounded like a child in elementary school reading a book in a sing-song (truly jarring when she was narrating a sex scene) and her voices for other females reminded me more of some anime characters I've heard. Really, really bad anime characters.
I don't recommend this book. For good YA titles, try John Marsden's "Tomorrow" series, or the YA books by Charles de Lint. For good YA sci-fi, Heinlein is dated, but still good. John Scalzi's "Zoe's Tale" is great. Take the money you would have spent on this book, and look for one of those instead.
LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay is hagiography from beginning to end. There is little critical insight provided by Kozak, who seems to be attempting to rehabilitate the reputation of a very complex individual. Kozak tends to magnify LeMay's virtues as a military leader (the youngest Major General---really? James Gavin might fit that role, based on date of rank; the only field/general office to lead troops into battle---really? Most Airborne commanders dropped with their troops in War 2) and soft peddled the effectiveness of the whole strategic bombing philosophy, of which LeMay was a dedicated proponent. There is little consideration given to the vicious firebombing campaign which devastated Japanese cities far more than the atomic bomb strikes, other than to adopt a "well, it wasn't nice, but it was war, after all" approach. LeMay's time in SAC received similar treatment.
The worst part of this audiobook was the narration. The narrator constantly mispronounced words, skipped words, and changed words in a bombastic tone that recalled Charlton Heston chewing scenery. I found myself switching frequently to the text just to escale the narrator.
The world deserves a good biography of Curtis LeMay: this isn't it.
The ninth book in the Kitty Norville series was a disappointment to me. This story lacked the tight plotting I've come to expect from Vaughn---instead, we started out bouncing from one unrelated story to another. When the story finally rolled around to San Francisco and Chinatown, the action picked up, but the story itself just wandered around a maze of twisty passages, all alike. Once the action was over, we were left pretty much back where we started, with nothing resolved and nothing of worth accomplished---and we still had what seemed to be an interminable epilogue to wade through. Gavin's narration was okay, but nothing special.
I had to force myself to finish this book, and it's not one that I would read again.
Snuff is the best outing from Pratchett in the last few years. It focuses primarily on Vimes, with cameos by the more important members of the Watch. It seemed to me that the book didn't really advance Vimes' character much; mostly we covered much the same ground we covered in Thud!, Vimes' self-doubt, his conflict between being a nob and a regular copper, with yet another dose of the Summoning Dark. Pratchett continues to retcon established characters---the Patrician is chatty, Wilikins has changed from Gentleman's Gentleman to a genteel thug posing as a GG; and sadly, one iconic characters NEVER APPEARS. For all that, Snuff was an engaging story, and held together much better than Unseen Academicals.The narration was not up to snuff. Briggs seemed rushed, as if he could wait to get all the words said and move on to other things. I found that a bit off-putting, as I have enjoyed his narration in the past. Overall, I recommend the book. If it isn't as good as some of the classics in this series, it's still a strong contender.
(And Audible---Filling out a form isn't writing a review, now is it? Please dump this idea RSN.)
As many others have said, this book without Marsters narrating it is just not up to the rest of the series. I just finished reading the ebook, and it was great, so no problems on that end. (Yes, I read them then listen to them as well. Sue me.) While I normally like John Glover a lot, and was willing to take the risk to listen to this with his narration, I really wish I hadn't. Marsters set a standard narrating this series that probably can't be met with anyone else---like listening to the Aubrey/Maturin series with anyone but Patrick Tull as narrator.
I wish I had my credit back for this one. If the reason that Marsters didn't narrate this book was a scheduling conflict, then next time, it would be better for Penguin to wait to release the book when Marsters was available. I think they've traded total sales for a quick release. Bad move.
If you like Marsters narration, my advice: get the book or ebook, but skip this audio version.
One of the problems with revisiting old favorites is that they don't always shine as brightly as I remembered. That's definitely the case with Deryni Rising. I read the book for the first time back in '71, and at the time I remember being fascinated by the characters, the pomp of the Church, and the politics of Deryni-Human relations. Listening to the book over 35 years later, I'm struck by how amateurish this novel seems. The characters in this book generally come in three varieties: Really, Really Good; Despicably Nasty and Evil; and Worm Food. The only character with any depth is Jehana, Kelson's mother, and even her internal conflicts are predictable, after a certain point. Otherwise, the main characters are like windup toys.
Another problem for me was the narration. For some reason, the voice Woodman chooses for Morgan sounds to me just like Richard Burton in Becket. I kept expecting to hear Morgan come out with "We judge him damned with the devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire and everlasting pain!" and throw a candle on the floor. Now, I love Becket, and I love Richard Burton's acting, but it set the wrong tone for Morgan. It makes him sound an insufferable, pompous prig.
While I'm not totally happy with this book, I'm glad that Audible has released this series. I'm hoping that they will carry on with the Camber series, so I can see whether I'm equally deluded about the quality of that series.
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