Best: it was an enjoyable addition to the series despite the narrator
Least: the narrator read the heroine as a whiny, puling, weak thing.
different narrator, a little more polish to bring it up to the quality of the larger novels, and a slight rework on the ending so that it doesn't seem as "deus ex machina" as a stand alone novel (in the context of the series, the ending does work and acts as a draw into the next story)
While I found the narrator to be a competent voice actor, with a decent tonal variety that allowed me to ignore the less pleasant qualities enough to finish the novel, her voice went nasal on a few occassions, and her reading of the heroine's voice especially was so tremulous that it was disgusting.
I really despised that. While it could be a valid interpretation of what was written, it was not in the spirit of the Ms. Leigh's writing as a whole, and was frankly a character-killer in that it made it very difficult to think of the heroine as worthy of her heroic status. A more enjoyable interpretation would have been the "stiff upper lip in the face of overwhelming adversity", or at least something that planted her feet on solid ground.
Movie, yes. It was actually short enough to translate well without having to drop anything of even mild importance. The entire series could probably make the shift to TV well, too.
This is probably not the best introduction to the series, but it is a good addition to it. One of the full-length novels would make a better introduction.
On the bright side, as a romance-themed series, the order of reading isn't as important as with a series that follows a particular character.
Some elements of the series:
The Breeds are a "bound by destiny" romance type, in the vein (pun intended) of Christine Feehan's heroes.
Ms. Leigh, however, does a much better job of creating different heroic types within her mold and different plots than Feehan has managed.
Each story in the series does further the development and timeline of the Breed universe.
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.
First off, kudos to Ms. Potter - her reading was excellent, her voice was pleasant and, frankly, if her reading hadn't been as good as it was I would have turned the book off sooner.
Now, I gave the story 2 stars because it has the bones of something worth listening to. There was just a lot of crap that needed to be dropped to get down to those bones. The most offensive of that crap, at least to me, was the underlying assumption that the world would be a better place if we just went back to the bad old days of the manly protector taking care of his (enslaved by law and social customs) woman.
Don't get me wrong: I like burly men with strong protective instincts - when they respect women as being more than just pets with sex-toy perks.
As I stated, Ms. Potter did an excellent job narrating this tale, to the point I was able to just roll my eyes at the cheap-shot pseudo-moralizing about modern American eating habits, city vs. country living rudeness, &ct., and go along with the main plot points - until the patriarchal swill got so over the top I deleted the book with 30 minutes remaining to the end.
If it had been a paperback, I would have used the book for fire starter.
First off, I loved William's character in the first book of the series, On the Edge, and as much as I enjoyed that book - in fact I think it was a phenom listen - I was rooting more for William than Declan to be the romantic lead. Cherise is definitely a better match for him than Rose, the heroine from On the Edge.
My main reason for rating this one lower than I rated On the Edge is the introduction of a spy thriller theme. It just didn't suit my tastes as well as the first novel's more "Questing Hero" theme. Also, William didn't have as much opportunity to break out the uber bad ass blasé that got me rooting for him in the first novel, though he did have ample opportunity to do bad things to very bad people.
Very much worth the listen!
The narration made the male lead sound a bit too much like a brainless brawn, but the writing does lend itself that kind of stereotyping. It's a bit of a beauty and beast story, and the heroes probably shouldn't have been drawn from some weird melting pot of religious / mythological iconographies if the author was trying for the kind of suspension of disbelief that the "fantasy" genre is famous for.
That said, if you're looking for a fun, fluffy listen it's not bad.
The male lead - his sense of community and responsibility was easiest to identify with.
I find I really have a hard time listening to men trying to mimic female voices, and Bellmore read the male lead in a way that conveyed a sense of brainless brawn. The characters were recognizably distinct, and the narration was worth the sale price.
This ain't Shakespear, and with that kind of expectation, it's enjoyable.
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