This turned out to be a very good story. Taking its cue from the original "Star Trek" episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," The Valiant takes us across the Galactic Barrier to meeet a new, more deadly foe and gives us some insight into the young Picard and how he became Capitain of the "Stargazer." Abridgements don't always work well, but this one does an excellent job of sticking to the main plot points and allowing the story to move forward without losing much. Anthony Stewart Head, Giles of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame, does a great job as narrator; although, his impression of Patrick Stewart's Picard did not sound so great. Overall, this was a very good story and well worth listening to.
I've been a huge fan of Ms. McCullough's Masters of Rome series since it was first published. I've read every one of them in book form and while they did decrease in quality as with each successive book they are excellent examples of good, well-researched historical novels with a basis in fact. The First Man in Rome, is in my opinion the best of the bunch. McCullough takes into a detailed story dealing Rome, Roman politics, the intricacies of war, and yes a little romance and intrigue. Her characters are well-developed, interesting, and keep your attention from page one. Even some of the long-winded paragraphs on the Senate and the minor details of war are interesting. If you love stories of Ancient Rome, you'll love this wonderful novel. Unfortunately, I could not give it more than three starts because of the terrible narration by Jill Tanner. Being English, it is expected that Ms. Tanner will pronounce some words incorrectly, but over and over again words that are commonly pronounced in both England and America are mispronounced. Most glaring of all is Gaius; the first name of many characters in this novel. It should be pronounced “guy-us,” but Ms. Tanner pronounces it as “gay-us.” She pronounces Marius as “mare-ee-us” when it should be pronounced as “mar-ee-us.” And that’s just the tip of her odd pronunciations. It doesn’t ruin the overall story, it would take more than with such a great novel, but it just gets annoying after about the 20th hour.
I only discovered this series a few months ago and have flown through all the books in the series so far. This my first time to listen instead of read. Narrator Johanna Parker was fantastic. She did an excellent job with the varied Louisiana bayou accents and she sounded exactly as I always thought Sookie Stackhouse might sound like, which is not usually the case with even the best of narrators. The book, on the other hand, was not as good as the previous novels. The plot was thin at best, didn't really kick in until about half way through and some of the action seemed trite and forced. I also find myself getting tired of Sookie's constant moving from one Supe to another -- it really belittles such a great heroine. I also dislike the direction the author has taken with Bill. Over the last three books he has really turned into an ass -- an immature ass at that. Overall, the book was OK and it will certainly bring me back to the next book in the series.
It's rare for me to give out a five-star rating, but The Curse of Chalion has earned it and deserves it. This is the first book I've ever heard by Bujold and it makes me want to check out her other novels. The Curse of Chalion features one of the most well-developed plots I've come across in a long while. More like a medieval historical novel with a dash of fantasy -- mostly in the form of a mythological religion -- the novel is a slow burn that keeps building until the finale is finally reached. Along the way we're treated to exceptionally well-developed characters, an interesting world, and one of the most original high fantasy novels to come along in some time. No one who enjoys intelligently written fantasy or historical fiction will be disappointed in The Curse of Chalion.
I was really drawn to the plot of this story, not because it was such a great mystery, but because the author obviously has a love of all things Irish and gives us a nice look at Irish life today. The characters of Nora Gavin, Cormac Maguire, and Garret Devaney are exceptionally well-written, but all of the characters are interesting and deserving of our attention. The two main mystery plots were less interesting and tied up too neatly at the end. I mean, who didn't know who the real killers were the moment the author introduced them? But, as I say, it was not necessarily the mystery aspect that drew me. Hats off to Erin Hart for creating such real, non-sterotypical Irish people for her first novel. I look forward to reading the further stories of Nora and Cormac. The narrator, Jennifer McMahon, was perfect.
I have been a fan of Father Andrew Greeley for nearly 15 years. Starting with The Cardinal Sins on through The Priestly Sins I have thoroughly enjoyed Father Greeley's wit, his unapologetic view of the Catholic Church, and his continued love of that same church. There was a time when I stopped reading Father Greeley's books because they became to schmaltzy for my tastes, but The Priestly Sins is a return to the early Father Greeley. In this novel he takes on the abuse scandals that have plagued the Church in the last few years. While Father Greeley does not hold back in speaking out against the scandals, the abusive priests, and the Church hierarchy, neither is this a hatchet job. Father Greeley has some definate opinions on the failure of some in the Church to confront this issue and nip it in the beginning instead of allowing it to continue, to damage the lives of so many young people who trusted their Church. But moreover, Father Greeley still has an obvious love for his faith and its ability to heal, to forgive, and to bring joy into people's lives. Like Herman Hoffman in the novel, I'm sure Father Greeley will not endear himself to some Catholics, especially in the hierarchy of the Church, but then Father Greeley has never seemed to care about that, and he has done more to bring a human face, a humanizing quality to the men and women to who serve in the Church than anyone else. As someone who is not Catholic I may be able to look at this differently, but I truly believe this is one of the best novels Father Greeley has every written. Thr narrator, Oliver Wyman, was adequate, but at times it was very bland.
I rate this audiobook three stars because it literally took 7 hours of listening before the book finally got going and became interesting. Prior to that we have lecture after lecture that strains one's willingness to keep listening. Maybe it was the narrator's bland style, but there were points when I wanted to put this book away and stop listening. Fortunately, I didn't do that and when this book kicks in, it really shines. My hat goes off to the author for his obvious love and knowledge of Celtic lore and life; however, I wish he could have pulled it off with a little bit less of the lecturing. The character of Lewis Gillies was also annoying at times. For someone who's earning an advanced degree in Celtic studies, he seems to know less than anyone! As I said, once the story gets going it is definately worth the time and I will look forward to the next book -- only, it's a shame, and annoying, that Audible only offers books 1 and 3 of this series.
After the disaster that was The Hippopotamus Pool, Seeing a Large Cat is a refreshing return to the novels of old. Back is the fun dialogue, the satiric eye-wink of a mystery, and wonderful banter between Emerson and Amelia. With this book, Peters has pushed the children into their middle to late teens, which provides for new an interesting voices to combat the bombastic Emerson and the lovingly know-it-all Amelia. The addition of David, the only good thing to come out of The Hippopotamus Pool, provides a refreshing new voice to the series and loving foil to Ramses and Nefret. Also new to this book is the addition of "Manuscript H," which provides a fictionalized voice to the adventures of Ramses, Nefret, and David. While I liked the addition of a new voice that allows for a perspective different from Amelia Peabody's, I found the way Peters chose to insert them into the novel annoying. I would rather have had her break the Manuscript H sections into seperate chapters, but she's the writer, not me. Overall, this was a nice return to the Amelia Peabody mysteries of old, but with new voices, new characters, the return of old favorites, and a much more dramtic turn than we've seen before. As usual, the vocal stylings of Barbara Rosenblatt are spot on. Her over-the-top vocalizations bring a wry humor to the already fun story.
First, let me say that Kate Mulgrew is absolutely fantastic as Katherine Hepburn. No better actress could have been found to embody the voice and character of Katherine Hepburn -- arguably one of the finest actresses of her generation and a true American icon. Secondly, I just love the whole conversational tone of this recording. You actually envision Kate Hepburn saying these things. This is a great recording for fans of either Kate.
I read these books many years ago and really enjoyed them. Peter David remains the best of the Star Trek fiction writers out there, and Star Trek: New Frontier is one of his better cretions. He mixes in old names and faces from the ST:TNG series with some new characters and races to create a great story. This abridgement of the first four books does a good job of keeping the main story points without losing too much of the character and plot development that sometimes happens with abridgements. As some reviewers have pointed out, this audiobook contains special effect and background noises, which can at times be annoying, but unlike some reviewers I didn't feel it detracted too much for the reading. There were maybe two times when the background noises drowned out the narrator. As to the narration itself, I thought the reader made some interesting vocal choices in his rendering of certain characters that just didn't work, but overall it's a decent enough job. If you like Star Trek and are looking for a new take on the ST:TNG universe, then New Frontier is a great choice. In reading this series I've often wondering why this isn't a series. It would certainly be a better choice than the too often boring Enterprise.
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