Phyllida Nash is my favorite reader for Georgette Heyer books. Heyer builds her stories with sparkling dialog, and Nash is spot on with all voices. As with many Heyer book's this one relies on situational comedy, and Nash has unfailingly perfect timing in her reading that makes the most of the comedy. I had read this book in print, and I will say that Nash's performance makes it even better.
As the story unfolds, I was reminded of Shakespeare's comedies and some Wooster/Jeeves misunderstandings, but even when Heyer's characters are silly, she draws them with so much affection, they don't come off as completely ridiculous.
Wise cracks need great timing and attitude and Ms King has both in plenty, so she brings Charley and all the wonderful side characters to life. It seems like it will be a fun series.
Ms. Trent would have been better served to develop her characters a bit more rather than to cover quite as much scope. The book was interesting enough for me to have finished it, but I grew increasingly impatient for it to end. It was a primer on Victorian burial practices (interesting) and relations between England and the US during the civil war (could have been interesting). It included a portrait of Queen Victoria when she lost Albert (annoying), a description of a rail disaster (the most emotive part of the book), and a mystery and romance.
Unfortunately the tensions that make for a good mystery and/or romance were lost in the surrounding events and lack of character development. I understand that Victorians didn't express themselves very freely, but in novels we are usually allowed inside the protagonists' hearts and minds. In this book the main character seemed more of a cardboard cut out than a woman. Perhaps if Polly Lee had been more of a performer, she could have breathed a bit more life into Violet Morgan, but all-in-all I thought she did an adequate job of reading 16 hours of uneven storytelling. I'm guessing not even the best performers could have enlivened Violet.
I won't read another in the series.
If you liked Good Omens (one of my favorite all-time books and audio books) and you loved Roald Dahl books as a kid, you'll enjoy this book. It is a lot of fun. Jonathan Cake does an excellent job of bringing the book to life with a good range of voices and great comic timing.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. In my opinion contemporary historical romance is basically the adult version of children's fairy tales and adventure stories - enjoyable fantasies that include sex and desire. As such the unsavory elements in the good vs evil struggle have to be carefully manged for me to enjoy the book. I prefer a mystery and some danger surrounding the romance, because it creates the crucible in which the characters develop and react to each other. But I don't want to read about genuine violence against women within this context.
This book skirts the edge of my comfort zone with the situations and experiences that threaten the primary female character. And although she is resilient and determined, she is too often victimized and rescued by outside forces for my comfort. I prefer books where the female character uses intelligence and wit to save herself. That said, if you prefer the darker tales from the brothers Grimm to the lighter ones of Hans Christian Andersen, then by all means try this book.
Not the usual Heyer. A sad tale and a bit tedious, but Jilly Bond's performance is wonderful.
"No happy ending" is said over and over again throughout this book, but there is a little: some redemption, a bit of clarity, a couple of rescues, and even hope for the future.
But there's too much desolation and ubiquitous drug and alcohol use for me, so I probably won't read the subsequent books. Sara Gran obviously loves her deeply flawed characters. The affection with which she portrays them helps ameliorate their barren circumstances and bleak outlook, and Carol Monda's reading does much to humanize all the characters. A lot of the dialog is in the vernacular and Monda's pacing speaks beautifully for each of the voices. For me, the most moving thing about the book was the picture pieced together of post-Katrina New Orleans and the survivors.
Claire DeWitt is a tough character to like, though by the end of the book I found her more sympathetic. The constant drug and alcohol use in the book prevented me from seeing her as the brilliant intuitive detective that I believe is Gran's intention. I'm a recovering alcoholic, so I'll never be able to view any chronic excessive drug user as a brilliant mind, nor do I see it as palliative for heart-sick or wounded souls. I thought Gran's use of drug induced visions and dreams to provide essential clues for DeWitt to follow was just a facile and lazy way to propel the story forward.
Also I found Gran's metaphysics more annoying than illuminating. Her mysticism when writing about the nature of 'mystery' felt overdone. The idea that a book about detection is a "code for a secret plan" that is a "channeled message" was too fanciful in the otherwise gritty story. I thought the metaphysical treatment actually trivialized the wisdom in the various quotes from Silette's book.
If you like bleak environments, troubled protagonists, and murky detection, you may enjoy this book. It does have a lot to say about the city of New Orleans and The Storm.
This is an odd academic sort of book, but without any history or facts - just one author's primer on what she imagines the craft of witches might be like: the types and sources of magical power, the means of identifying abilities, the heredity (or not) of power, and the training of the craft that shapes the magic. It isn't a magical world, just a world in which magic exists in witches. There's no wonder or whimsey, not much of a plot-line, no mystery, no danger, and everyone in the book is really (really) nice. They are too nice to be multi-dimensional people, but not exactly the Stepford Wives either - just simplistic. Even all the kids are so well behaved that I expect it must take a magic village to raise children without any dysfunction or rebellion. The little bit of romance is referred to but never actually felt. No emotions clutter up this book.
I spent the entire book coasting through the pleasantries waiting for something to actually happen. Since one of the repeated admonitions in the book is: "An untrained witch is a dangerous witch" one would expect at least a blip along the smooth flat-line of the story.
It seems unfair to rate Pardee's reading abilities with this book, but I expect it is her reading that accounts for anything that enlivens the story. Her skill is probably most evident in the fact that the characters were identifiable from each other, even though it must difficult to distinguish characters when they are uniformly undemonstrative.
I enjoyed this book as much as the first in the series. I loved the detail about Elizabethan England, found the additional characters specific to this book engaging, and thought the magic more compelling in this non-modern setting. However, I do think the book would have benefited from a bit of editing. But Jennifer Ikeda's excellent performance as the reader of this trilogy easily carried me past any knots slowing the flow of the story.
I found it interesting that the primary female character, Diana Bishop, comes into her own in this environment where women had far less freedom than modern women have, while the primary male character, Matthew Clairmont, had some regression issues to deal with as he resumed a previously held role in the world. And of course, time-travel allows us to meet long dead fathers, both of whom are quite wonderful in different ways.
I like the way Harkness handled the implications of time travel, especially the glimpses she provides of the modern day family tracking Diana and Matthew through a spattering of anomalous artifacts showing up in the modern world.
All-in-all I thought it a good 'middle book' and eagerly await the last book in the All Souls trilogy.
Having read the other reviews, I have to say 1) yes this is primarily romantic fiction, 2) yes it is a sort of "Twilight" for adults since it is pg-13 and not a true 'bodice ripper' type of romance, and 3) yes the first book is a set up for the rest of the series so there is no completed mystery in this book. Yet I found it entertaining, have read both books in the series, and am eagerly awaiting the third on my pre-order list to see how she pulls everything together. I only hope Harkness's complete vision is as interesting as her set-up has promised.
I like her characters and there is enough 'action' and mystery in the story to keep it moving and engaging. But then I am a Romance reader, love vampire fiction, and find the addition of genetics interesting. The reader is quite good, which is critically important to my enjoyment of an audio book. If a reader is poor, I'll continue any series I start in print rather than listen to a poor reader.
If you are strictly a sci-fi/fantasy reader, skip this series. It will frustrate you. If you like historical romance, continue on - the next book takes you to Elizabethan England.
This series is my favorite fantasy series, and this is the first book in the series. I first read it in print, now I'm listening to it in audible format. A great premise, completely engaging characters, snappy dialog, mystery, danger, and a great reader. What's not to like!?! And the witch Rachel Morgan (like my favorite wizard, Harry Dresden) has that wonderful trait: a very good heart, so trying to do the right thing in impossible situations always sinks her deeper and deeper in trouble.
The series is a total of 13 books, the last of which is to be released in September of this year, plus one book of short stories. Those of us who want to move into the Hollows eagerly await the final installment, but we will be sorry to see it end.
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