This book marks the beginning of Frodo the Hobbit's quest to resolve the question of the Ring of Power which hangs over the fate of Middle Earth like a menacing cloud. I read this book over 40 years ago and it has headed up (together with the others in the trilogy) my list of books to be stranded on a desert island with ever since.
Although the fantasy genre predates The Lord of the Rings, it is no exaggeration to say that Tolkien's books inspired the tsunami of fantasy fiction which is with us even today. More than once, I have read some particularly dreadful specimen of the same and thought to myself that J.R.R. Tolkien has a lot to answer for (tongue-in-cheek) but his genius speaks for itself and is recognized today. When I was in college, stating that The Lord of the Rings was a great work of fiction elicited (from my English professors) stares of incomprehension from some and mild contempt from others. As Norman Cantor has remarked, however, it is the reading public that determines whether a work is great or not and by that standard The Lord of the Rings is now a classic.
Rob Inglis is able to do the series full justice. Not only is he a superb narrator, but he can sing which is important in a work with such an emphasis on songs and music (not always the case.. sometimes I've cringed in sympathetic embarrassment as a narrator, competent in other respects, attempted to sing or chant his/her way through a song with dismal results).
In short, you can't go wrong with this series, particularly if you like stories about quests or knightly adventures. There's very little in the way of boy-girl romance however and no sex so readers who like plenty of that in their fiction may want to look elsewhere.
Paranormal novels come in two general flavors; those which take the heroine and romantic interests relatively seriously (think Laurel K. Hamilton and her ilk) and those which adopt a lighter, more traditionally chic lit approach with lots of frothy dialogue, breathy descriptions of the male romantic interest, etc. First Grave to the Right belongs to the second group.
Charley Davidson is a grim reaper who collects souls and sees (you guessed it) dead people, which might sound serious but isn't in Ms. Jone's novel. This particular grim reaper has bestowed individual names on her breasts and ovaries, one of which is (I kid you not) 'Scotty.' If you can read that sentence without having a gag reflex induced, then you're probably good to go for the entire novel with its lengthy descriptions of heavy breathing with the love interest Rais (an entity of unknown providence) as he makes her 'girl parts' tingle.
There is also lots of emoting as Charley blames herself for the bad behavior and foolish choices of everyone even remotely associated with her. Her stepmother's cruelty and the demise of a woman she had rescued from her abusive husband who decided she had to go back to her house one more time for a baby blanket are all viewed by Charley as her fault and a general indictment of her failures. Speaking as someone who's been around long enough to know that it's difficult to get people to take responsibility for the things they actually did, Charley's overactive conscience not only seems over the top but also tiresome. For a child to take her stepmother's cruel words about her paranormal abilities being somehow wrong or proof of Charley's essential badness is understandable; for an adult to do the same thing is merely pathetic.
The narrator Lorelei King does a very good job with the novel and is the only reason I was able to persevere to the end. Bottom line: chic lit and romance novel devotees will probably love this novel (and judging from the reviews do); those who like their paranormal adventures spiced with a little irony or whose blood sugar is likely to be overcome by too much cuteness should make another choice.
**Spoiler Alert - Don't read if you don't want to know anything about the plot and how it progresses**
Even after listening to this book I can't figure out what the point of it was.
You've got two main characters, Daniel who works in the bookshop at the mall, and Rhoda who has gone to the mall to score some cocaine and lost the boy she was supposed to be babysitting; Rhoda (improbably) forces Dan at knifepoint to help her look for the boy, supposedly because of his superior knowledge of the mall (just how big is this thing ) and they immediately wander into some alternate universe where The Mall is run by Management, Shoppers shop until they're recycled, and retail clerks are chained to their desks and have control software wired into their brains. From there things only get wackier.
After I finished, I tried to make sense of the book and its disappointing ending but I couldn't. I felt like I had gone on a circular journey with the characters which ends in the same spot so to speak, but in a distinctly worse place than the beginning. Dan and Rhoda both seem constitutionally incapable of acting in their own or any one else's best interests. If the book is meant to be a send-up of Mall culture and its worship of shoppers and shopping, it doesn't succeed because Dan and Rhoda both choose the worst aspects of that culture at the end (trust me when I say 'ick').
The book is narrated in male and female voices for Dan and Rhoda respectively. The narration is done competently but with the addition of some really weird accents. Dan has what sounds to me like an Indian accent although action is supposed to be taking place in southern Africa and Rhoda has some kind of peculiar British accent. I once heard something like it in an episode of Are You Being Served when Shirley Brahms was putting on a 'posh' accent, but since it emerges in the course of the novel that Rhoda is solidly upper middle class, this seems an unlikely explanation. Like so much else relating to The Mall, I simply can't account for it.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a good horror novel, I'd pass this one over, but if you love absurdist fiction, it might be worth a listen.
I've read and listened to many zombie books. You could say I'm addicted to the genre. That said, Rain was disappointing. The narrator did not fit my auditory picture of a young video gamer turned zombie apocalypse survivor and his attempts to convey excitement or tension seemed shrill and unconvincing to me.
The interaction between the characters was often jarring. The narrator Alex is pathetically grateful to his friend Mike the jock for allowing him to be his friend and Mike usually acts like a jerk and gets away with it. Then we have to hear the horny adolescent fantasies of Alex regarding Lucy (one of two girls he and Mike are on a hike with at the beginning of the book). Lucy and Elena (the two girls) never really emerge as characters; they exist to illustrate the emotional ups and downs of the two boys (we can't really call them men).
The plot follows the usual conventions of the genre. The four main characters exhibit initial disbelief followed by descent into social chaos followed by randomized killing (zombie and otherwise) and the death of a major character or two, and at the end, the set-up for the next book. The characters often behave stupidly but that's much S.O.P. for a zombie novel (and the horror genre as a whole for that matter).
Bottom line: if you're a zombie apocalypse fan and you enjoy reading about geeky, socially awkward young post-adolescents who get the girl in the end, you'll probably like this book.
I love a good alien invasion story and I also love a humorous story; this little gem is both. The little green men featured in this story manage to conquer Earth without firing a shot. The conventional invasion story is not the only thing satirized here; we also get an interesting and occasionally thought-provoking discourse on the nature of reality itself. How do we know what reality is? Is anything real, perhaps we create our own reality, and so forth but all firmly tongue-in-cheek. There is even a little unintentional humor when some people, believing the Martians to be devils, decide that Mars is hell and Venus is heaven (the book was written before the Venera and Mariner 2 expeditions).
Recommended for 1950's sci-fy buffs and people who like off-beat humor.
This story is a classic by one of the genre's old masters. Shirley Jackson's fiction often reflects a preoccupation with themes of alienation; in "The Haunting of Hill House", the shy, socially awkward protagonist Eleanor struggles with finding a place for herself, a home, somewhere to belong. In the past, she served as a caretaker for her sick and not-very-affectionate mother (another character, Luke, informs her with some pathos that he 'never had a mother,' and the reader is left to reflect ironically on Eleanor's mother and suspect that there are worse fates). After her mother's death, she lives with her contemptuous sister and brother-in-law who grudgingly allow her to live with them.
Eleanor's sojourn at Hill House is the great adventure of her life and her unspoken wish is to find somewhere (and someone) with whom to belong. Unfortunately, Eleanor finds herself among a motley lot of oblivious or self-centered characters. The only one who really seems to want her is Hill House itself...
Think of this book as one of those Sci-Fi B movies you used to watch on afternoon television (or still watch on Netflix). An alien plant lands on earth and wants to...harvest...everything. Throw in some Appalachian good ol' boys, a psych professor with ESP and various other assorted odd balls and, well, 'nuff said about the story. Don't expect it to be logical or make sense, just go with it, and it's a pretty good time, even if the dialogue (read out loud) is often cringe-worthy/unintentionally funny. Although, who knows, the author clearly didn't intend the story to be taken seriously so perhaps the humor is intentional.
The narrator does a competent job with the story although his depiction of women's voices leaves something to be desired. Still, I imagine it is difficult to simulate a female voice if you're male and visa versa.
All in all, a good time to be had for lovers of science fiction B movies but if you like more realistic or thought-provoking science fiction (or horror, this one does overlap the boundaries), you might want to choose another title.
This is the funniest book I have listened to since the halcyon days of S.J. Perelman.
Initially I was listening to the book as I walked around the neighborhood but stopped as I feared the spectacle of a middle-aged woman alternately laughing and crying (to herself, apparently) might attract unfavorable attention, i.e., the men in little white coats.
Not only was the book funny, it was cathartic as well. Cursing Mommy's long rants against everybody, especially the Bush Administration, left me feeling curiously relieved, lighter almost. I think most people can relate to the simple little task that turns into a complicated nightmare even if we don't end up on the floor amid broken glass cursing Dick Cheney.
Cursing Mommy will never win an award for Mother of the Year but her dysfunctional family putters along in its own way and the tale has its own kind of morality. For example Cursing Mommy never succumbs to the temptation to investigate the particular shade of grass represented by the client/boss's unflagging pursuit of her (he's rich too). Given that her husband's love is devoted to his capacitor hobby and her eldest son bids fair to become another Ted Bundy (if setting fires in childhood is indeed a early warning sign of serial killerdom), her steadfastness is admirable altho it may be due to her fondness for alcoholic products.
The narrator's tone is exactly suited to Cursing Mommy's life. I love the way she can go from soft, Yoga-inspired cliches of peace & harmony to full-out Defcon 3 cussing. Perfect.
Perhaps the problem is that I'm starting this series in the middle. I get the impression that momentous events happened in the previous volume so perhaps the slow start of this story is a welcome breather for fans of the series.
Be that as it may, the deal breaker for me was the incredibly stupid behavior of the main character. Dr. Alan Gregory and his cop pal are implicated (possibly) in the suicide/homicide of a woman who threatened to kill the children of Dr. Gregory & the cop but nobody knows this except Dr. Gregory & the cop pal. There is a rumor that the case may be opened on the basis of new evidence, a possible witness the night of the woman's death may have seen a visitor prior to her death.
On nothing more than the possibility of a reopened case, Dr. Gregory decides it would be a good idea to go to the town where the death occurred (on a bicycle no less) and start lying about who he is and generally messing about. Why??? This guy is supposed to be smart! Why not just paint himself red and hang a sign around his neck saying 'suspicious character.' I got so annoyed by this idiocy that I quit listening. So the story may improve later, I don't know (may try it in print where you can skip over especially annoying parts).
Dick Hill is a wonderful reader and kept me listening even though I found the early part slow going (as mentioned above.)
Or even anyone who doesn't like endless, graphic descriptions of sex with emphasis on S&M, ritualized murder, and debasement of women. I love haunted house stories and even horror stories but not stories enshrining sexual perversion & death. Haunted house stories usually involve sex at some point but this book is only about sex and demonic rituals. Overall, it was a yawn. Not scary. The horror is all about shocking (and titillating) the reader with perverse sex, death, & demons.
The narrator was not bad at straight narration but I didn't care for his character voices. His male voices mostly sounded like old men or foreigners but were not terrible. His female voices were pretty terrible although I give him points for trying. It can't be easy imitating voices of the opposite sex.
Overall, I rate the book as only 'fair.' The Legend of Hell House is a far better book in a similar vein; on the other hand, I did listen till the end.
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