Based on many of the reviews here, and from others on Amazon, I almost didn't read this book. Sure, it received really good ratings, but those were predominantly from women. And it's NOT that I don't respect the female perspective - but as a book club member, I end up being a bit swamped by what are pejoratively called "chick books". Admittedly, I'm rarely disappointed, but come on - a guy needs a good thriller or a murder or a marauding hero in a book every once in a while! So, I feared that "Guernsey/Potato Peel Pie" would be such a book - and the title didn't help any! But, I was pleasantly surprised! Okay, sure, there is no real nail-biting action (and certainly no explosions or car chases), but it was a really delightful look at human personalities, and the indomitable will to survive - each characater in his/her own way - in the face of harsh adversity. And, via the literary devise of being told exclusively through transmitted letters/cables/notes, it was a subtle and well-developed study in human nature. Additional to the wonderful characterizations, this story has the side benefit of relating a bit of the history of the German occupation of the Channel Islands, as well as the bombing of London in the 1940's. As to the quality of the audiobook - it was superb! At our recent book club meeting, I found that my having listened to the audio version of the book may have been the best selection of media. With this audiobook, I was regaled and enthralled by the reading skills of multiple voices, and this proved to be an added layer of enjoyment for me, over the printed book version. Hearing the various accents really helped differentiate between characters. In addition, the excellent readers in this audiobook version provided subtle tonal inflections that conveyed passion and intent. It was truly an impeccable production...well worth the price!
What a creative and clever way to look at characters! I don't know if this started off with Scalzi saying, "Hmmm, I wonder if I can write in various points of view, and look behind the scenes of how characters tick?", or as just a random idea. Regardless - it worked! The main story was funny, poignant, and creative. The separate coda were well-linked to the main story in a very heart-felt manner. I really liked this book a lot! I am fastly becoming a huge Scalzi fan-boy! “Old Man’s War”, “Fuzzy Nation”, and not “Redshirts” – all good stuff! Oh, but, I guess amidst all this mush of Scalzi-love, I probably should point out that he does have a tendency to use the screenplay style ("he said", "she said") a bit too much! And, particularly in an audiobook, this becomes VERY obvious…and not just a little irritating! Let's just call this his "room to grow" as an author! (Maybe that's how he gets his word-count up for meeting publisher requirements???) Still, other than that one affectation, I really like the way he thinks and writes! His dialog is crisp and focused, and his characters are ALWAYS unique and enjoyable. I will definitely read/listen to more of his works!
And, as an audiobook, Wil Wheaton did an excellent job as Narrator - which makes sense that he'd be able to inflect emotion into these characters because, he himself (as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek TNG") must have felt like his character might just as casually become just such a "Redshirt" in the early days of his TV series appearances. Wil Wheaton did a really good job of putting dynamic range into the various characters - with more vocal intonations than I'm use to from him (as an audiobook Narrator). He really got into these characters!
So, from all perspectives, this was an excellent listen!
I'm always a sucker for time-travel - - and the concept of cold-sleep (cryo-sleep) to travel into the future is a neat idea - then, using pseudo-science to get the main character BACK in time - - well, it wasn't a very precise explanation, but it worked well-enough as a plot device! But, that is one thing I like about Heinlein - he doesn't overdo the explanation. He tosses out a mostly-credible premise, lays down a patina of fairly plausible science, and then just runs with the main task of character development and interaction! So what if it really wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny of a physicist. It's FICTION!!! And, as a story-teller, Heinlein is beyond reproach! He is able to get you to like (or dislike) his characters without spending excessive time describing their personalities and motivations. Concise! Refreshing!! This was a lovely little story about how to use time-travel to serve up a dish of hot Karma! And, the ending wound down to a typical Heinlein-esque "open-minded" relationship situation that left me with a tiny but of "Hmmm!" But, I'll resist spoilers! Suffice it to say that this should make for a really saucy discussion at book club! As to the narration - it was a decent job! Nothing amazing, but it was a light and fun vocal interpretation without flaws or anything that drew me out of the story. I'd listen to another audiobook read by this narrator!
What a great collection of Ellison! His stories never fail to make you think. I've been a H.E. fan for years, and decided to go back to re-read his works. I'm SO glad I did. After about 30 years, one tends to forget the subtleties of short stories. And, for the most part, the stories in this compilation DO stand up to the test of time - being mostly about universal human foibles. (Okay - sure, there are some dated references, but they are minor, and easily allowed!) So it is no wonder that so much of his work has been made into television shows or movies - OR, that he has written so much specifically for visual media. And, as an extra treat, I especially loved that this audiobook is read by Harlan Ellison himself. (NOTE: The following is with regard to all of the reviewers who have said that Ellison reading Ellison is off-putting!) There was a brief intro to put a few of the stories into perspective - then BAM - full-on Harlan! What better way to get yourself into the (twisted? complex! disturbed?) mind of Harlan Ellison than by having him read the stories they way they bump around inside his head! Yes - he DOES read at a frantic and frenetic pace. Yes - his voice is unevenly modulated, and you DO have to keep a hand near your volume control. Yes - his vocal style is sometimes haphazard and difficult to follow. BUT, this is how these stories were meant to be read! This is how these stories were written! And, this is exactly how these pieces of manic "disturbia" were conceived! Besides, Ellison is actually a pretty decent reader - once you dial into his pace and tone. I especially like his casual and off-hand intonations. There is a real sense of the IMPACT of these stories as he narrates them. I very much look forward to listening to the other volumes in this series ("The Voice from the Edge"). Great stuff!
I was pretty underwhelmed with this one! I didn't HATE it, but I can't say I actually LIKED it! So - 2 stars! I guess after something as riveting as "Old Man's War" - this was pretty tame! I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator over-enunciated, and gave Honor a 18-21 yr. old tweeny-bopper's voice that sounded too...well...too damn perky and empty-headed! (Yes, I know Honor is SUPPOSE to be a soprano - but this was a bit too high for a woman of her supposed age, even as a soprano!) And, as to the story itself, well, it felt like hours 1-14 were 13 hours of unnecessary expostulation around an hour of weak but necessary (yet highly contrived!) set-up; with the final 2.5 hours being really nicely elaborated (the crux of the crisis!), but leading to a REALLY predictable conclusion. I also thought the character of Honor was tepid, shallow, and unrealistic - mainly because the author never gave us quite enough of her story and back-story to make her credible. Also, MANY of the secondary characters had WAY more personality (yes, I know Honor is SUPPOSE to be cool and stoic, but I mean that her character just had no real back-stopping! It was flat!). Still, it was not BAD. And, if the audiobook's narrator had been less annoying in her voicing and speech patterns, it may have been mildly enjoyable. As it was, I just wanted it all over with - being damned and determined to finish it (hoping the ending might be more clever than it was!). And, as to that ending - it WAS really well depicted by the author. It's almost as if he had a really good battle scene short story, and felt compelled to put a novel around it. But, alas, Heinlein could have done this in half the verbiage (especially the unnecessary and highly-gratuitous tech-speak and pseudo-military lingo - AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!), and would have done it twice as well! Will I continue this series? Almost certainly not! Will I read more by this author? Perhaps, but likely not! (And, I will PURPOSEFULLY steer clear of this particular narrator for future audiobook selections!)
Wow! Yeah, CHANGES alright! Was nothing left un-upended? And, as I've said before, in the audiobook series of this novel, James Marsters just gets better and better as a narrator...especially, in this story, when he does the voices of the Pixies (most especially for Toot-Toot)! Too funny! So, now, everything is up in the air! What next? OMG, I can't wait to find out. Anyway, this book, particularly, seemed to have a more compelling tone to it, too. Perhaps it's when Jim Butcher talks about kids (and Dresden's kid, in particular this time), he really shines. I look forward to the next in the series!
For me, this book was a "Hey, why not take a chance" selection from audible.com. And, I liked it a LOT! Bronson Pinchot did an EXCELLENT job of narrating. And, as for the material itself - well, it was fun, creative, action-filled, and clever. The characters were, for the most part, unique and memorable (either as good-guys/gals or bad-guys/gals). What I found interesting - and not a little bit odd - was that I was reading Brandon Sanderson's "Alloy of Law" at the same time as I was listening to this audiobook. There was an interesting overlap in general (and I mean GENERAL) theme. One is not a derivative of the other - but I just found it interesting (serendipitous?) that two books I'd be working on at the same time would have characters who can manipulate their weight (either by pushing/pulling on metal, or by just altering gravity), and that both books would have such a rich panoply of magical characters. But, back to this book.... I really enjoyed the storyline, and the hint of a magical being (and it's predator) that over-arches this plot. The fight scenes were BRILLIANTLY filled with unique and clever uses of the character's particular magic in ways that just defied second-guessing. That was refreshing! I especially liked the use of Japanese kanji as power elements that could strengthen individuals - but only if they were meticulously inscribed! Nice! All in all, this was a delightful experience - especially with Bronson Pinchot reading (his breadth of characterized voices was impressive and enjoyable). I will definitely listen to the next book in this series, and will almost certainly read something else by this author (Larry Correia has a "Monster Hunter" series that has me intrigued.) Oh, and this was a "quasi-alternative historical fiction noir" story, as well - with perhaps a little steam-punk thrown in for good measures. Talk about cross-genre writing! Anyway, we get to meet some familiar historical folks along the way, but in slightly altered positions. And, watch for the uber-subtle shout-out to Raymond Chandler near the end! I may need to go back and look for more such "Easter Eggs" now.
Jim Butcher just gets better and better with each book. And, James Marster gets better and better with each one of these books that he narrates for audiobook. James Marster's use of voices (especially for tiny little fairies!) is fabulous! Very/VERY good job! This was a really fun book. Lots of intrigue and plot twists. And, the plotting was NOT cliche or easy to guess. Also, I really like the character development in this series. I look forward to listening to the next book!
I REALLY loved this book! And, the audio-version made it even better. The material is hilarious - as long as you don't have a thin skin for TOTALLY non-PC language, for ribald humor, and for...well, WANKING, SNOGGING, and SHAGGING! The amount of research that went into making this "loose retelling" of the King Lear story must have been phenomenal! And it shows - by virtue of how masterfully and seamlessly the author interwove the "King Lear" play with bust-a-gut funny embellishments. There are a multitude of Shakespearean quotes (from various other works of the Bard) tossed into (and tossed off!) this totally irreverent book! I was laughing at a steady pace the entire way through the book! And, the narrator of the audio-version (Eaun Morton) did and EXCELLENT job of bringing the voices to life (especially the 3 Witches!). This is, IMHO, one of Christopher Moore's finest books! It pays irreverent homage to Shakespeare, while telling a nasty little story of deceit, revenge, treachery...and "heinous f**kery"! Loved every minute of it!
This book was actually better than I expected. It started off sort of like a long-winded fantasy, but had some very unique magic elements and creatures - sufficient to capture my curiosity and hold my attention. Probably the biggest fault might be the excessive cast of characters that surrounded the primary 3 main characters - so it got a little confusing when the interwoven plotlines bounced back/forth. ("Huh? Who the hell is XXXXX???" happened several times.) Still, that's a minor gritch. For the most part, all of the minor characters moved the plot along. In fact, I found myself REALLY hating a few of those minor characters, and shouting out loud (I listened to the audiobook version - so I was shouting at my car stereo...which must have been VERY amusing for other drivers on the road!) for those bastards to "get cored" [jargon from the book!].
And, there were some places where I thought the plot was unnecessarily protracted - but it really wasn't all that bad. So, all in all, it had fairly acceptable pacing. But, I did have to keep reminding myself that this is a multi-book series - and that this is the opening volume in that series...soooo, establishing foundational material is necessary!. This only molified me a little, and tried not to be too peeved when it took 4/5 of the book for the primary characters to finally connect - and for the main story to be established.
Oh, by the way, the action scenes were really well done - and the author's ability to create plot tension was superb.
That all said - bottomline: I'm moderately inclined to continue the series, if for no other reason than to see if those secondary characters finally get their just retaliations(and they had freaking BETTER!!!). And, the storytelling IS engaging and fun in such a unique world. I'm tempted to hear more!
I have never been a huge fan of Stephen King...mainly because I felt him to be a gristmill of common fiction. But...there have been several of his books that I've found to be imaginative, well-written, and insightful. This is definitely one of his better books! Many of the detractors for this Uncut/Unedited version slam it for being long-winded, and for many passages being unnecessary. However, I strongly believe that THAT is exactly one of this book's most endearing qualities...its depth of character - especially for secondary, tertiary, quaternary, and even (surprisingly detailed) for briefly mentioned quinary characters. It is a book that needs to be enjoyed for the journey, not the final word. It's a character study - a jigsaw puzzle of interlaced attitudes and feelings; it's a mélange of everyday folks being thrown into an extra-ordinary situation...a crucible, if you will. And, sure, it's good vs. evil at it's core. But, it's much more than that. It's a slice of life, gone REALLY wrong! Prophetic? I hope not! A warning? Certainly! Overall, I really enjoyed it MUCH more than I thought I would. I plan to explore more of King's works in the near future! Oh, and in this audiobook format, the narrater (Grover Gardner) was AMAZING in his range of voice characterizations (male, female, young, old, mentally challenged, and evil)! His intonations and expressiveness was incredible. This was apx. a 48 hour experience - and I was not bored, nor did it put me off at any point along the journey!
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