This was my first Audible download, but it took me over almost two months to finish, in part because the tenor of the stories was all very similiar and the narrator spoke so quickly that the unfamiliar names were difficult to pay attention to, and as the book is filled with unfamiliar sounding names that made the book hard to pay attention to.
I'm not sure if the stories were as strange as they seemed because I missed key parts or if there really were leaps of narriative glossed over in the writing.
One thing that I would like is the reference list for the book. That's probably my one biggest complaint about non fiction on Audible is not getting the reference list.
That aside, the book is well written and the arguments presented are well thought out and free from obvious flaws for the average listener.
The first half of the book may be a bit slow and maybe a bit dry, but it lays out some foundation material for the second half of the book. When the authors got into the "material" evidence for their position, there were some snicker worthy euphemisms used. I shall never view a "beer fridge" quite the same, for instance.
References to current media where arguments against the book's position are available were included in the text, with directions on where to find them before the authors provided rebuttals.
I appreciated that the authors stopped short of trying to apply moral judgement to the modern Western civilization ideal of human sexuality, though they did help to provide a basis for a more ... realistic view of the difference between love and lust, and what that means for long term relationships.
Narration: It started off sounding like the story was recorded slower than it was played back, so the words were rapping out like bullets, and if there was any minor cadence changes, they got lost in the rapid speaking. Trying to listen on half speed took everything down too slow. However, the narration improved as the book went along, but the start was rocky.
Story: With the exception of my major gripe below, it was an enjoyable listen that could have used a little more polishing.
One of the more difficult things to get right is a world that's somewhat based off of ours. On one hand, it's easier to evoke an image with less words. On the other, if the author fails to provide a decent rational for significant divergences, it makes the whole story harder to enjoy. The level of government discrimination against shifters in this story was one of those unexplained over the top grumbles.
The same social effect could easily have been achieved if the author had used a "right to discriminate" guarantee or something along those lines. Adding in a 20 year time frame to get used to shifters and not having any mention of shifter groupies or other fringe pro-shifter or at least shifter-neutral forces in human society was a failure in world building.
I think this is one of the wordy books that just works better for me to read it than hear it, and there are a few of those. My husband enjoyed the experience more than I did, maybe because he could empathize with the narrator a bit better.
Mr. Inglis came across a bit like an aged (though professional) fan-boi as he was reading, and it had the same effect for me as someone trying not to laugh at their own joke - a bit too eager, a bit too excited, a bit too, too much for a first time listener to catch the funny part of the joke.
That made it harder for me to pay attention to the story - especially with all the funky linguistics - which made the story have less impact. Knowing how much everyone else I know who has read the story has enjoyed it, I'm figuring I'll get to bump up the story rating after I actually read it for myself.
As the summary says, this is the first of a 10 book series, and it kicks things off well.
Narration first. Mr. Juliani has an excellent reading voice, and managed the feminine voices without much trouble. There were sections when it seemed like the reading was on 1.5x speed, but for the most part the tempo was just about right. I'll be more likely to pick up something with him reading.
I have had a number of people recommend Zelazny to me as a Science Fiction author, and as someone who's more into the new Sci Fi than the older works, I was hesitant to give him a go. As I've matured, my reading tastes have changed to prefer character development, especially internal growth, to broad social commentary, which is what I was expecting given the people who were recommending Mr. Zelazny's work.
While this was neither social commentary, nor quite about character development, it was still a good story. The hero of the story starts off with no clue who he is, and as he uncovers more about his past, the story sucks you into a larger scale plot.
It wasn't the story type that I typically like, and yet I like it anyhow, which I find to be the mark of a good storyteller.
First off, this was a fun listen with good narration and a good plot. I'm looking forward to more in the series.
The characters are well developed, and there are enough hooks about the support cast to get you to want to know what happens to them, and what happens next in the plot.
Ms. Wright also created a back story for her preternatural beings that gives them a believable reason to be less romantic and more ... lustful is probably the best word. And that's my hold back from giving this book a 5 star rating.
This is not a book to listen to around the under 18 crowd. If it had a rating, it would be at least NC17, if not XXX.
All the characters cuss like sailors, and Ms. Wright doesn't seem to know how to write a sex scene that isn't pornographic. Nearly all of the physical contact between the main characters is sexualized to the point where they seem more in lust with each other than in love, and during the sex scenes there really aren't any "feel the love" moments, just a lot of "feel the sensations" and "can't wait for the culmination".
That said, the sex scenes are really well written porn, and Ms. Redfield reads them well. She conveys the intensity of the scenes without going so heavy into the reading that it turns voyeuristic.
This was well narrated, with Ms. Sands bringing a bit of something extra to the reading.
The story itself was well written with good characterization and character building, a strong plot that kept to a just-right pacing (neither slow, nor so fast that you had to listen to every single word to avoid confusion).
Folks who have listened to Ms. Estep's adult series, Elemental Assassin, will find some references to Gin Blanco's world, but there's no mention of elemental magicians, dwarves, vampires, or giants as common-place members of society.
This was an enjoyable listen - the actual story was engaging and the narration enhanced the story.
However, anyone looking for romance should probably skip the sex scenes. While well written -- and they are well written -- the acts depicted read more like rape fantasy enactment pornographic sex than romantic sex. I believe the kink community calls it "consensual non-consent". There's also a male on female sodomy scene that's just as graphic as the rest of the sex. If those hit your "off" spots, fast forward is you friend - the rest of the story makes up for it.
And in case you're wondering, the difference between porno sex and romantic sex is (1) how much the sex is about physical satisfaction versus emotional satisfaction, and (2) whether there's any lead up to the sex (as in, enjoying the skin-to-skin for it's own sake) or just wham-bam, let's get to the money shot, scream-for-me-baby.
The Story Contents:
Death by Dahlia, by Charlene Harris (read by Nicola Barber)
The Bleeding Shadow, by Joe R. Landsdale
Hungry Heart, by Simon R. Green (read by Ralph Lister)
Sticks and Stones, by Steven Sailor
Pain and Suffering, by SM Stirling
It's Still the Same Old Story (a Kitty Norval Story) by Carrie Vaughn
The Lady is a Screamer, by Khan Iggeldan
Hell Bender, by Lori R. King
Shadow Thieves, by Glen Cook (a Garrett PI Story)
No Mystery, No Miracle, by Melinda M. Snodgrass
The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery, by MLN Hanover,
The Curious Affair of the Deo Dundle, by Lisa Tuttle (read by Nicola Barber)
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies, by Diana Gabaldon (read by Ralph Lister)
Beware the Snake (an SBQR Story), by John Maddox Roberts (read by Ralph Lister)
In Red, With Pearls, by Patricia Briggs
The Edackian Eagle, by Bradley Denton
(Apologies if I misspell an author's name. Not all were listed, so I wrote how it sounded.)
Overall, I think this was a good way to get introduced to a lot of different authors, and if you like even just three of the authors you find then it'll be worth a credit to pick it up.
Each of the narrators worked on different stories, with Phil Gigante doing the bulk of the talking - if no narrator is listed above, it's safe to assume it's Phil's gig. I gave 3 stars because Phil sucks at imitating female voices, and he tries a bit too hard to perform the story, which has mixed results. He's competent, and if you like the booming style of 1950's era radio you'll probably enjoy a lot more of his performances than I did. I found Ralph Lister to be closer to a 4 star narrator and don't recall enough of Nicola's performance to comment beyond that she didn't detract from the stories she read.
As to the file organization, each story spans several chapters, but each story starts with a new chapter section, which at least makes getting around easy enough. Each story also starts with about a minute or two of author blurb - accomplishments and a "further reading" list, that sort of thing.
The narration didn't get in the way of the story, and the voice was not unpleasant. It was not a stand out performance, but neither was it a detraction.
On to the story. One of the big paradoxes of the horror genre is that if the monsters are as bad-ass as they're written, their failure to openly rule the world requires a lot of handicapping. Ms. Bishop avoided the paradox by building a world ruled by the monsters. I found it pretty interesting, and mostly well thought out.
There were some stylistic choices that were off the beaten track which might cause some minor irritation for a person who prefers the more regular stylings, such as an investigator's backer who is only ever referred to as "Mr. Big Wig". I think going in with the expectation that the styling of the story will be different may improve the listening experience.
All in all, I found it quite enjoyable and finished it (all 18 & 1/2 hours) in a day and a half because I really didn't want to stop hearing what came next. I look forward to more in the series, if only to see what comes next with Meg and Sam (Simon's nephew).
I confess, Ms. Raudman is one of my all time favorite narrators. She does an excellent job of giving each character their own voice, her speaking voice is fun to listen to, and her pacing and diction are top notch. In fact, I came upon this book when looking for more tales narrated by Ms. Raudman. :)
Story-wise, this was a fun romp pulling in some new takes on classical fairy tale memes like the Wise Animals, Heroic Princes, and Evil Step Families. It resonates well with that genre while also being fairly novel.
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