J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood is one of the best of the paranormal romance series. Lover Avenged is a solid book. She managed to turn a drug lord, pimp and murderer into a sympathetic romantic lead with her touching dialogue and interaction between Ehlena and Rehv. There are also two side stories of the other two Brothers weaved in. Jim Frangione's narration added a contemporary mood to this urban fantasy/romance. Highly recommended for lovers of paranormal romance or urban fantasy.
They are both great. I can't imagine the narrator doing a better job, though.
The emotional impact.
Not sure who's who, but everyone did a great job.
Skippy due to the tragedy of his circumstances and the ability to connect to his character.
Christmas Canon (after Pachelbel’s Canon)
"Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living."
-Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (1813 - 1855)
"Maybe instead of strings it’s stories things are made of, an infinite number of tiny vibrating stories; once upon a time they all were part of one big giant superstory, except it got broken up into a jillion different pieces, that’s why no story on its own makes any sense, and so what you have to do in a life is try and weave it back together,…"
Angst, that amorphous feeling of dread, has its balance in tragicomedy and metaphysical hope. Teenage angst, most of all, is defining in its shattering of illusion, its realization that the world is only grey, and that there is no real answer. In this thoroughly entertaining and achingly poignant book, Paul Murray managed to weave an elegant allegorical fabric of the cosmos in which the mathematical system of classical music is the perfect mode of communication. Yet this quantum world is heartbreakingly chaotic in the macro world of students in a prep school, its faculty members and the employees of a donut shop. It’s a multiverse where particles connects and vibrates in a symphonic movement of banality and hope. Highlighted are the painful lives of the troubled Daniel "Skippy" Juster, the wishful Ruprecht Van Doren, and the regretful Howard.
The story takes place in Seabrook, a Dublin private school composed of hormonal teenage boys, in particular a group of 14-year-old friends. This world of privileged children and haunted faculty members is full of vivid characterization and dark humor, with the sex-obsessed Mario proudly touting his three-year-old unused lucky condom, Ruprecht’s foibles in his search for a way to the other universe, and male infatuations with schoolgirl Lori and Geography substitute teacher Aurelia McIntyre. There is also a villain in the form of drug dealer Carl, Skippy’s sociopathic rival for Lori. Underlying this symphonic movement with its variation of voices is the poignant bass of the lost Skippy. Murray masterfully integrates a large number of point of views, from the students to the employees of the donut shop, seamlessly moving from third person to first person, from trite musings to deep insight, and from humorous to tragic. All this with a curious mixture of humor, tragedy and hope.
The personal stories are not only about teenage angst, but also about the Seabrook faculty members. The adult Seabrook staff members are no less lost in their navigation through life. "Howard the Coward" Fallon, the history teacher, drifts through a life of disappointments; Gregory L. Costigan, the economics teacher and acting Principal, is obsessed with the business side of running the school; Father Jerome Green, the scary French teacher atoning for a past sin, is an overachiever of altruistic accomplishments; and Tom Roche, former star athlete and swim coach, has a life that is tragically intertwined with Howard’s disappointments.
The plot starts out with the big bang, the death of Daniel "Skippy" Juster after he scrawled with donut jelly, "TELL LORI", for Ruprecht to tell Lori that he loves her. Death and tragic love sets the tone for a story that accelerates into a revelation of everyone’s imperfect universe. In this ever changing and interacting donut shaped universe, things manifest in time and goes back into the fold. We are swept up in this canon of unrequited loves, loneliness in a crowd, and the tortured decision to tow the line or be true to oneself.
Skippy Dies is a Möbius strip with the teenage Skippy’s story balancing the adult Howard’s story. Both are tainted by a defining shaming moment that would cause them to badly cope with the emotional impact, Skippy through a numbing drug haze, Howard through living his life in safe banality, avoiding confrontation. Both Skippy and Howard endured distracting infatuation with unattainable princesses. Besides risking his fragile ego, Skippy risks a dangerous encounter with Carl, his rival for Lori’s affections. Howard risks the safety of his mundane relationship with his girlfriend and his stale job as a history teacher to follow the giddiness of an adolescent infatuation with Aurelia. For all their bravery in trying to attain their princesses, the failed knights suffer defeat in a world of amorphous grey dragons that can never be lanced and defeated. Whereas Skippy managed to escape to the other universe via death, Howard lives on in this universe facing the repercussions of a life disappointing himself and others. Both tainted knights who care too much in an uncaring world ultimately were destroyed by the amorphous dragon.
Both Skippy and Howard’s cowardice reverberated through others. After Skippy’s self-destruction, Ruprecht’s grief turned into obsession with finding the portal into another universe that has the answers. Lori, Skippy’s love interest, aim to slowly disappear from this universe. In a further demonstration of the entanglement of vibrating strings, Howard’s cowardice reverberated through time affecting Skippy in the form of the tragic ex-superstar Tom. Murray deftly creates a believably surrealistic effect that combines a quantum world with the macro world, as time slows for the drugged Skippy as he muses how the painkillers can help him in his travel to another universe. After Skippy made his successful journey through the black hole of death, Ruprecht’s search for a way to the other universe grew to a desperate intensity that results in a humorous adventure as the boys break into the girl’s school to seek the perfect point of entry to the other universe. What emerges is a hilarious sequence that ends with Rupert and his quartet sending a message to Skippy via the aching hybrid of the hopeful Pachelbel’s Canon and the idealistic BETHani song,
"If I had three wishes I would give away two,
Cos I only need one, cos I only want you."
Split into four movements, Hopeland, Heartland, Ghostland, and Afterland, Skippy Dies is a verbal symphony about the need to make sense of a chaotic world in which there is no clear good or bad, the vortex of change is unceasing, and nobody wins. What could be a Bildungsroman, full of laughable awkward moments of the foibles of self-discovery, ends up giving the impression that there is no answer or panacea to life’s difficulty. It is about self-delusion, the lifting of the veils of delusion, and the self-preserving need to go back into the delusional world. Sadly, it is also about the destruction of those who cannot hang on to the iron armor of illusion.
Wonderful narration amplifies the witty dialogue between the characters. I hope this narrator will perform in more of her books. I had many chuckles. The placing of the ancient Gods and demons in contemporary setting created lots of opportunities for laughs. Highly entertaining.
Although the stories I've listened to so far of the Dark Series are formulaic, repetitive and full of trite expressions, I find the stories fun and pleasurable. Guiltily, I enjoyed Ideas such as dark, handsome, protective and powerful heroes matched with vulnerable heroines, with the hero being super monogamous. Must be a primitive cave woman thing. A member of Audible for many years, I enjoyed classic authors like Dickens and Austen, and modern authors such as Anne Rice. These authors are much better writers, more poetic and original. However, they did not compel me to not wait until my 2 books a month credit is available. I couldn't wait with the Dark Series. I purchased two of these since I had to see what else happened to those Carpathians. Christine Feehan knows what she's doing writing many books of the series. It's like bags of potato chips, full of salt and fat with no nutritive value, yet you gotta have another bag. For that, I have to give the series 5 stars.
This is a great audiobook for the right brain types who need a little visualization of the calm zen life that organization can offer in order to get started. I had David Allen's Getting Things Done book for several years but never finished it. After listening to Marla Dee's audiobook several times and feeling inspired, I then read David Allen's book and had an ah-hah moment. I'm finally seriously implementing wonderful organizational methods in my life.
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