Manchester, CT | Member Since 2012
I have been an avid listener of urban fantasy tales for a number of years now. Harry Dresden is by far my favorite; the Twilight series....not so much. Judging this book by its cover, I would have put this in the camp of sparkly vampires. For quite a while, nothing in the story dissuaded me from that assumption. By the time I reached the second part of the Audiobook, author Cassandra Clare changed my mind.
Some of the good things: Clare did a fine job in her world building. Everything seemed to hold up to its own logic, and behaved consistently. There is nothing quite so devastating to a fantasy story as inconsistent rules for the characters. She brought the characters to difficult crossroads and significant challenges and did not flinch away from them. That can be a very hard thing to accomplish in a Young Adult novel. As the story grew to its climax, I found it more difficult to turn it off. I wanted to know what happened next and I was satisfied with the end.
The biggest flaws in the book are that it seemed a bit timid. The danger the characters faced did not feel especially dangerous. The emotions felt a bit superficial at times. Some of the descriptions came off a tad forced. The action scenes were short. Everything got better as the book went on, so that was good, and perhaps I am holding this up to a standard it was not meant to be compared to (Dresden). Maybe I just am not a big fan of teen angst.
Ari Graynor did a fine job. She does not have quite the range to handle some of the male voices, but she did not force it, either. She brought a lot of life to the characters, had a good cadence, but there was nothing exceptional about the performance.
In the end, I found this to be a good-but-not-great start to a series. I am definitely intrigued by where the story is going and I will certainly purchase more in the series.
I picked up this book quite some time ago during one of Audible's excellent sales because I listened to Peter Clines' other books (Ex-Heroes and Ex-Patriots) which I found to be entertaining. In the intervening time, I quite forgot the synopsis, so by the time I did actually queue it up I was going in blind. I was more than pleasantly surprised!
"14" tells the story of an apartment building and the group of tenants who follow the trail of oddities about the structure to unravel the secrets of its origins and purpose. I found the cast of characters to be quite engaging. While none of them were particularly fleshed out none of them felt like cardboard cutouts, either. I mean, I would have loved more history on the central characters, particularly the retired "publisher" Tim, but their dialogue and motivations were apparent enough that their actions made sense and felt natural. Everything in the story was well paced and each clue pointed to the next in a believable fashion.
Ray Porter deserves a huge round of applause for his ability to infuse the characters with so much personality. He made the interactions between the characters crackle with sarcasm and innuendo. The lazy vagueness of Eddie and the juvenile undertones of Roger help me see these characters more than the writers words alone could do. The way handled the scenes in which multiple characters bicker was just great.
I enjoyed the plot and appreciated the deliberateness with which Clines moved the story from simple curiousness to true mystery to genuine danger to shocking sci-fi. I truly did not expect the story to go so far in the Twilight Zone as it did but as the strangeness grew deeper I was not surprised by what was happening. Clines did flirt with plenty of stereotypes and cliches but never quite crossed the line so they become distractions.
This a good but not great story with an excellent performance. I would easily recommend this to anyone who enjoys mysteries but must also like things to get weird.
I love stories about magic. I love stories about wizards. The Harry Potter series has been an all-time favorite listen of mine for the last five or six years, and in it magic is a way of life, clever in its execution. The Dresden Files is perhaps the best urban fantasy series I read, and the magic here is impressive, overwhelming, and as varied as it is powerful. In "The Night Circus," however, magic has never been so....well, magical! It is innocent, creative, and beautiful; it is deep, mysterious, and powerful.
To boil it down to its most basic level, the story is nothing more than a battle between two opposing forces with the innocent caught in between. But this far from a common tale and far from conventional ideas. The fight is between two masters of different styles of magic, forever dueling to see which is the best. The weapons are their two students, unknown to each other, ignorant of the rules, and unaware of the stakes. The battleground is the Night Circus itself, each contestant adding another circus attraction more elaborate and marvelous than the last in a challenge of one-upsmanship. Caught in the middle are the patrons of the Night Circus who come for an evening of entertainment but find themselves entranced by the grandeur and wonder of the magic they only secretly believed was real. The tension rises as it becomes increasingly clear how the fight must inevitably be decided and the cost of winning and losing is understood.
There is little action to speak of. There are no epic showdowns between characters filled with the power to sunder the earth. There are no wands waved or staves whirled overhead to direct dazzling energies of destruction. But the conflict is still just as terrible and dangerous. Erin Morgenstern has created a truly enchanting world and Jim Dale's narration transported me directly into the heart of the Night Circus. Like so many who had visited the place in the book, I too wanted to wander from tent to tent and marvel at the wonders I know I would find. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted and well-told story, regardless if they like stories about magic or not.
I always enjoy a story told from the viewpoint of an egotistical villainous super-genius. The tone is refreshingly free of angst and worry; just cold, calculated, clever, and often overly polite, dialogue. Emperor Mollusk is just so damn intelligent - and he knows it - and yet relate-able, I could not help listening to the entire book with a smirk or a chuckle just waiting to come out. That is a credit to A Lee Martinez; straddling the line between likable and dastardly can be tricky.
Perhaps much of my enjoyment from this book is delivered by Scott Aiello and his masterful performance. His range of voices is rather large and none of them sounded forced or out of place. And he absolutely nailed Mollusk. I felt I could actually hear the facial expressions through his performance - which is kind of ironic given the character himself states that his species' features are notoriously difficult to read.
The story itself was good, well told, and enjoyable. It wasn't particularly original, though, so I took some points off. I thought it was interesting that, despite the fact the story takes place on Earth (known as Terra in this book), there was almost a complete lack of human characters in it. There were Neptunians, Venusians, giant robots of all sizes, pterodactyls with lazer-vision, and a rather adorable cybernetically enhanced, giant killer-centipede and all of them were well-crafted by the author. So, while I do feel like this was a rather simplistic adventure, hopping from one sinister death trap to the next, I think that is exactly what the author intended it to be. It is what it is, and the author embraced every bit of it.
This was a funny, enjoyable, worthwhile listen and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Sci-fi.
A Memory of Light was everything a fan of the Wheel of TIme could hope it would be. For the last two decades I have been following this series and found, for the most part, each book to take these characters and move them one step closer to becoming the powerful and worthy heroes for the Light; heroes the world needs in order to survive. In this final installment, the heroes more than live up to the promise Robert Jordan made to us so many years ago.
The Last Battle has finally arrived and it is even more devastating than I imagined. Parts 3, 4, and 5 (maybe some of Part 2, also) was focused entirely on the battle. This was handled quite masterfully as the stakes seemingly rose with each successive engagement, yet everything was still clear and understandable. There were even some moments of respite, for the reader if not the characters, as Brandon Sanderson moved us from battlefront to battlefront. The best part was the number of twists and surprises that sprang up, strategies and accidents that occurred to keep the tension up. I particularly enjoyed the way the Forsaken Demandred was made into a terrifying force on the battlefield by the number of heroes that challenged him. Rand's struggle with the Dark One was also a pleasant surprise as it wasn't merely a test of skill against skill, it was truly a fight for the destiny of the Pattern.
Narrators Michael Kramer and Kate Reading deserve a special acknowledgement for their work on this entire series and this book in particular. I believe their performances were a big part of the tension and suspense, joy and humor that I felt during the Wheel of Time. I have read all of the books in print as well as listening so I have a good understanding of what emotions come through from the words of the authors and what comes from the narrators. These two added layers and nuances to the characters and made the whole thing better in my opinion.
There were a few instances of not liking the way something unfolded (the resolution of Padan Fain, for instance) but in the scheme of things those few barely stacked up against the pleasure and satisfaction I received from this. In the end, I laughed and cheered my way through the telling of this book and felt moments of true grief. And by the closing minutes I felt comfortable and ready to let the characters go. I was curious to know would happen next and I knew I would miss them, but I did't feel like I needed more. The tale of The Wheel of TIme was finished, the story complete. What more could a reader ask for?
The latest installment of my favorite series did not disappoint in the least! As usual the action was excellent and I have to marvel at how well Jim Butcher lays a battle so that the reader is aware of the craziness of the situation but is not confused by it. Despite the otherworldly characters, encounters, and actions our hero, wizard Harry Dresden, must contend with, I am able to clearly see in my mind's eye what is going on. I am always saying to myself, "He just did WHAT!?" rather than "What did he just do?" I feel this is a testament to both Butcher's ability to convey his vision of the story with his words and narrator James Marsters' ability to bring them to life. Bravo to both of them.
As for the story, it is amazing to see how far Dresden has come since that first book, Storm Front. In the beginning, he was over-matched by a single Warden of the White Council and now he regularly interacts with, and blithely threatens, the entire Winter Court. Such power has certainly come at a high cost, though. This book is a fine demonstration of Harry stretching his new-found muscles as the Winter Knight and much like the last few books of the series (excepting Ghost Story, as that felt something like an interlude) the world as Harry knows it is spun on its head in the most devastatingly delicious way possible.
I already cannot wait to give this book another listen (I am sure I missed some of the implications he hinted at throughout the novel) and the next book simply cannot come out soon enough.
I loved this book. It is almost as though author Ernest Cline went through my stuff at home and decided to write a story based on what he found there. I am not sure if it is possible for me to judge this book objectively because of that. Anyone who loved video games as a kid or was weened on '80s pop culture (or even still enjoys them today) will get more than a kick out of this imaginative quest-oriented adventure. Cline found a way to put the character - and by extension, the reader - right smack in the middle of some of the most iconic movies, music, and games of the era, and manages to create very intricate riddles and puzzles to rival any of those found in the games he so obviously enjoyed himself. I even enjoyed all the history and "behind-the-scenes" information Cline provided on everything, giving it all that much more of a sense of reality to a novel based almost entirely in a virtual one.
That said, this may not be an enjoyable book for someone who has never played D&D, World of Warcraft, or watched classic '80s TV and movies, or hunted for any hidden "easter eggs" on their favorite DVDs or video games. Some people may not know what the references are that the plot hinges so desperately on and may wind up confused. This story may be geared too much toward a particular crowd and alienates the rest. Perhaps this story resonates too closely to my own personal sense of what is awesome. Either way, I have to give this book my most fervent recommendation. Cline made a grand adventure out of my nostalgia and for that I will always be grateful.
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