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Commodities broker, father, husband, and avid scifi/fantasy/self help fan.

Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2014


  • City of Dreams & Nightmare: City of a Hundred Rows, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Ian Whates
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows

    They call it "The City of a Hundred Rows". The ancient city of Thaiburley is a vast, multi-tiered metropolis. The poor live in the City Below and demons are said to dwell in the Upper Heights. Having witnessed a murder in a part of the city he should never have been in, street thief Tom has to run for his life. Down through the vast city he is pursued by sky-borne assassins, sinister Kite Guards, and agents of a darker force intent on destabilizing the whole city.

    Michael says: "Full sails in a thin milieu..."
    "Full sails in a thin milieu..."

    It's interesting how an author's work can strike a positive chord in some, and in others, a severe dissonance.

    Think before you react on my statement. Consider a few of YOUR favorite authors - You love their work, while other people loathe them. Ultimately, it's about an author's words reaching out to YOU, where YOU live, and a literary connection is birthed, a relationship between inspired writing and your personal taste.

    How does this diatribe regarding style and preference fit into this review?

    In the case of this particular work of Ian Whates, this simple literary rule will predominate for both its listeners and readers, and here's why:

    Descriptive expression is so important for successful fantasy or scifi writing, because you're asking the reader or listener to suspend disbelief, and journey into the author's work in good faith.

    Mr.Whates excels in plot and character communication and interaction. However, while he has built a FASCINATING milieu, bursting with astounding potential, the descriptive necessities of the world he's created could be more detailed. Despite this weakness, this is out of the box creativity personified - The potential here for great storytelling is superb, to say the very least.

    That being established, if you enjoy urban fantasy, with a mixture of originality, steampunk, magic, intrigue, and interesting dialogue, you'll enjoy this audiobook, as I did, and you'll forgive the less descriptive narration. However, if you like rich, deep, lengthy descriptions of the author's literary world he or she has created, a solid focus on setting the milieu, such as Jordan does in his "Wheel Of Time" series, you may NOT fully enjoy this author's first work in the series.

    As to why I like this work, it's very original on a number of levels, and if followed through appropriately by Whates, it has the tremendous potential to become a fantastic launchpad for future works. All this being said, though, his lack of better description of even simple things pulled my ratings back on this work.

    It's a good solid beginning, and while I enjoyed the ride a lot, the milieu descriptives, so important to suspend disbelief, were thin. Shallow at times. So, despite the lack of stronger descriptive writing, the other wonderful strengths in this work has made it enjoyable for me, thrusting wind into the author's literary sails of this work. I truly enjoyed it, I'll overlook this descriptive thinness, and I'll acquire the next in the series.

    Will it do so for you? I have to say that it's going to be about individual preference on this one.

    Here's hoping this audiobook fills YOUR sails ...


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Furies of Calderon: Codex Alera, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the realm of Alera, where people bond with the furies - elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal - 15-year-old Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. But when his homeland erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Tavi's simple courage will turn the tides of war.

    Jim says: "Remastered into chapters from CD."
    "Lost Roman Legions...And POKEMON?"

    If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.

    This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.

    Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.

    To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.

    It DOES sound lame.

    Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.

    I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.

    The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.

    So, what about the writing?

    Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?

    I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.

    Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?

    Home run, Jim. Home run.

    46 of 50 people found this review helpful

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