First off, you really need to read the first 3 books of the series before this one will make sense.
It's pretty clear that we are building up to a bigger climax in the final book. The humour is growing a little stale after 3 books (although there is a new element to joke about---Alexia's almost-completed pregnancy). Meanwhile, Alexia solves some problems and creates new ones. The Grand Mystery is unfolding and some of the questions that we thought were solved in previous books are raised again. (You REALLY have to have read the previous books for this to make sense.)
One big plus is that this book focuses a good deal of time on one of the more interesting secondary characters: Lord Akeldama (who was almost entirely absent from Book the Third). I like the fact that we don't have His Lordship's full biography, but we get some interesting hints about the vampire he is...and the man he once was. And, just generally, he is an amusing player to watch---clearly, the author had lots of fun writing his dialog and I had fun listening to it.
I'm finding the series enjoyable in a light, beach-reading kind of way: amusing, reasonably well-written...and mostly harmless.
The series finishes with a fifth book and, if you've gotten this far, you probably want to finish the series (I did, and yes, it really does end after five books).
I'm still of mixed opinions about Emily Gray's reading. She gets many of the characterizations nailed down well (Lord Akeldama being excellently delivered), but I think she does a so-so (at best) job with the Scottish and French accents, when required. This book required less of that than the previous two, but it was still a distraction when Lord Maccon was being read.
I really enjoyed Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. I found the characters charming, the setting interesting and the stories fun. But I was hesitant to start this prequel series.
And I'm of somewhat mixed minds about this, book 1. I'm glad that this story, while set in the same milieu as the first series, isn't quite as focused on vampires and werewolves (they are there but not the focus), so get a different flavour...some of the characters (but only a few) are from the original series...Carriger's wry humor is present, albeit in smaller doses than before.
But the story in this case was a bit weak. And, setting the story amongst teenagers in a school setting invites comparisons to Harry Potter...whether spoof, satire or just similar setting. I also get the feeling this one was aimed at a younger audience than the first series.
I'll probably carry on with this series, but so far, I enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate more.
I'm a little less thrilled with Moira Quirk's reading. In general, she does well (definitely better than the narrator of the first series with respect to French and Scottish accents), but she disagreed with the first narrator about how to pronounce some of the proper names, etc. I have nothing against her reading...just not thrilled with it.
Stanislaw Lem wrote many serious novels and essays, with deep literary impact about communication, aliens and idealized societies.
The Cyberiad isn't one of those.
A collection of mostly humorous (if more than slightly geeky) tales about the famous "constructors" Trurl and Klapaucius living in a robotic/cybernetic world. Despite the technological society, the setting is somewhat Medieval...kings, knights, pirates, the occasional dragon, even a few (robotic) princesses. In this context, Trurl and Klapaucius are knights-errant, using their skills to solve problems, meet challenges and occasionally mess things up royally.
It's a fun set of stories, keying on the friendship-cum-rivalry of the two constructors.
Scott Aiello's narration was very good.
Larry Niven's Ringworld saga/extended thought experiment comes to a conclusion.
In the foreword, the author reveals that he never really intended for Ringworld to be more than a one-off story and interesting thought experiment. However, it captured the imagination, and so he returned for 3 more novels, adding the concept of Pak Protectors, another thought-experiment-turned-saga from his Known Space universe for novels 2 through 4.
We're at the final chapter, and there is now a burgeoning "fringe" war among the species of Known Space (mostly Humans and Kzinti) while the protector Tunesmith, Louis and their companions try to keep the Ringworld safe from invaders. The story is a pretty good windup to the saga...although it is now getting somewhat long in the tooth, and it is good that this is the last one.
However, I find the narrator pretty irritating. He makes Tunesmith sound like an overly cheery salesman (rather than a ghoul-turned-wizard) and Acolyte sound like a mentally subnormal child rather than an (adolescent) 7-foot tall feline predator. Especially a come-down after listening to the excellent narration of the previous book in the cycle, The Ringworld Throne.
I've enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate stories, and we finally get many of the loose ends tied up together and the story most emphatically ends. [The author's blog indicates she is working on a sequel series centering around the next generation, but Alexia's saga is clearly wrapped up.]
Alexia and Conall now have a toddler on their hands, and what a handful. Legally, she is being raised by Lord Akeldama and his drones, but the birth parents are always on hand (as foretold in the 4th book). Then a comes a summons for little Prudence to attend an ancient vampire hive queen in Egypt...and Ivy Tonstil comes along as the cover story. There is a separate storyline with the werewolf pack back in England, mostly focused on Biffy and Prof. Lyall.
There are a couple of unexpected twists, and it is clear that Gail Carriger is tying up many of the loose ends from the earlier books. The story itself is enjoyable and the ending is amusing and worth waiting for. My biggest regret is that there is not nearly enough Lord Akeldama in this story, but we can't always have everything.
I'm still mixed on Emily Gray's reading. Some voices clearly pose a challenge to her, but that doesn't seem to interfere with this particular story. Her narration did not detract from this story, but I don't know that it added all that much, either.
About the time that Sherlock Holmes was wandering chasing criminals around London, and P.G. Wodehouse was in boarding school, E.W. Hornung created A.J. Raffles and his partner (known in this volume only by his schoolboy nickname of "Bunny").
A.J. Raffles is a man about town...famous cricketer...master of disguise...occasional expert burglar and safe cracker. His companion, Bunny, falls in with him more or less by accident and has somewhat mixed feelings on living by stealing versus the excitement of the chase, and of course, the ongoing terror of being caught.
The writing, and the humor, are very reminiscent of early Wodehouse and Raffles is fairly reminiscent of Psmith. However, while Wodehouse was writing to be funny, I think Hornung wrote these stories to be more adventurous with mildly ironic characters. I also get the sense that Hornung wrote Raffles as somewhat of a counterpoint to Sherlock Holmes.
These stories are very dated to late Victorian England...the writing, the humor, the characters and the setting all scream "1890's." Definitely a period piece.
Overall, it was fun and amusing, lighthearted and escapist without a whole lot of baggage or serious depth.
The narrator did a great job with this!
What happens to you after you die? We're not talking about the soul or an afterlife---what happens to your body after you stop using it?
Many people donate their cadavers for research, and that's where things get interesting. Mary Roach visited all sorts of groups who use cadavers for various research purposes, ranging from determining how bodies decay (for criminal forensic purposes) to medical school dissections to some more outlandish uses that you might not consider.
The author provides a look in a science-for-the-public, clinical-yet-casual manner---it isn't overly technical and is written for the layperson. In addition to the actual treatment of the cadavers, you also learn a bit about the people who work with them and some of the incongruities surrounding cadaveric research.
I found it fascinating but I can imagine it isn't everyone's cup of tea.
The narrator did a great job!
First off: this is the third of 5 stories and they really won't make sense unless you attack them in order.
Second: Carriger's story is finally taking shape...I guess she started to do that in Changeless, but Blameless is where it became obvious that there was a bigger mystery unfolding. Also, some of the more repetitive jokes from the first two books---such as Alexia's libido---got downplayed in this one.
Third: It is also the first book in which characters other than Alexia and Connel take center stage...in particular, Professor Lyall.
Lastly: The non-English accents presented in this book didn't tax Emily Gray's diction as much as the previous book.
An interesting idea...London is now a night city, with a large number of vampires wandering around a city ruled by Queen Victoria and her new Prince Consort...a certain undead Wallachian prince, who arrived in England a scant few years ago. The story is populated with familiar names from Victorian-era history and fiction....Sherlock Holmes is in a prison camp somewhere, but his brother Mycroft is still sitting in his club and his foil Inspector Lestrade is on the case, and so on.
In this setting, someone starts killing vampiric ladies of the night (in the traditional sense of the term). Someone known as "Jack the Ripper." Against this, various groups seek to solve the case while dealing with political unrest and London deals with the brave new world of vampires and the "warm."
I found the story starting out slowly, but picked up as it went along. But the ending was somewhat predictable...I found it worth listening to, but I won't bother listening to it again.
I enjoyed the first book in this series, but this one didn't do it for me on several levels.
First off, the combination Victorian bodice ripper, steampunk fantasy and Dracula was the central mysteries of the story weren't all that mysterious. Next, several of the tricksy plot twists were pretty obvious.
Lastly, Emily Gray's reading, particularly the numerous Scottish and French accents, got pretty tiresome.
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