I'm a huge Connie Willis fan so, of course, I'm biased about all her books. And Bellwether, a slightly older title, did not disappoint. It was well-researched, entertaining, and kept me wanting more -- all with that special Connie Willis lightness of touch.
The characters are delightful, I learned more about fads than I would have believed possible - and the ending was totally satisfying.
I heartily recommend Bellwether!
I probably don't need to tell anyone this is the seventh book in the Outland series - but if you're new to this series make sure you read this last! The book would almost certainly stand on its own, but you'll get far more enjoyment from reading it as the last in the series (to date - holding my breath for Book 8). I'd also recommend reading the Lord John books before you listen to this one, as he plays a significant role in this book and many of his earlier connections, friendships and adventures are referenced here.
The book is ... huge, fascinating, mesmerising, breathtaking. Like all Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, it's difficult to say anything about this saga without using hyperbole. The interweaving of story lines is a little more abrupt in this book: I've seen some reviews which are critical of this aproach,but I found it exciting. The story lines seemed to me to flow from one to another without difficulty:
Jamie and Claire's long and infinitely touching relationship continues to evolve - Diana adds new layers, new secrets, new variations to their love and their lives. Lord John and William are, for the first time, significant characters in an Outlander book and the complex relationship between the Grays and the Frasers just gets more complex. Brianna and Roger and their family have a small but important role -- and it's clear this role is going to become still more important in book 8. Ian finally steps out of the shadows and becomes a characeter in his own right -- and the introduction of Denny and Rachel Hunter gives us two wonderful new characters to love.
And, of course, Davina Porter's magnificent reading continues to be as good as ever! I cannot imagine anyone doing a better job of reading this books than she does ...
I've read The Bourne Identity many times. It's a great thriller - full of excitement, well-paced and well-constructed. It's a little old-fashioned nowadays, I guess, but I was really excited when I saw it was available from Audible and bought it straightaway.
What a disappointment!!! The reader, Scott Brick, who is billed as an outstanding performer, gave an over-the-top histrionic performance which completely ruined this talking book for me!
"And he LOOKED over the BOAT'S RAILING and he SAW ...". Enough of that - you get the picture. Every noun and every verb was declaimed in a tone of almost complete hysteria.
I was driving the car down a country lane while I listened to the start of the book and I had to pull off the road after about 20 minutes and stop the performance. I just couldn't stand any more!
I'll never listen to The Bourne Identity now, sadly -- what a total waste of an excellent book. And why on earth did the reader feel the need to do this?? I'll be watching out for books read by Scott Brick in future -- to make sure I avoid them ...
Having read all the customer reviews available so far, it's clear the Blackout/All Clear double book is either loved or hated by its readers / listeners. I'm one of the former - as a long-time fan of Connie Willis' work I've been waiting for All Clear to come out before I listened to Blackout and boy, was it worth the wait!
I can see why some readers found the characters' internal agonising over the impact their actions may have had on the space/time continuum too frequent or too long but, to me, the characters were incredibly three-dimensional and their fates something I really cared about. Yes, there were minor issues in historical accuracy - but the depth of Connie Willis' research into WWII England (and, especially, the Blitz) is incredibly impressive! And yes, there are minor inconsistencies in the books and, occasionally, Katherine Kellgren's somewhat unusual pronounciation of words was, er, surprising - but I was swept away by the story and the story-telling and the reading!
I find myself thinking about the characters and wondering what happened to them - sometimes devising plots to resolve ends which weren't tucked up entirely neatly. I think these are truly wonderful books and recommend them to anyone who likes their SF to have a human face
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