Start here for Meljean Brooks' Iron Duke series!
I read a lot of long books so I have to give this props for not feeling rushed or underdeveloped at less than four hours. The world building is strong, and the story puts you right into the thick of things. No boring lag times here! You'll be able to jump into the next book with a strong grasp of this steampunky universe.
Yet I'm in no hurry to get to the next books, and I think it was the narrator. It's not as evident in the sample as it could be, but she takes a noticeable pause about once every five words or so, much more obviously than you'd hear in normal conversation. I found the effect rather clunky. She also gives a lot of thrust and an imperative tone to much of the dialogue which didn't make for an easy listen. It's weird, because I'm usually pretty easy-going when it comes to narrators and can brush off other people's complaints, but in this case I won't be continuing on with the Iron Duke series on audio.
So I'd recommend listening to the sample carefully before buying! (Well, I'd recommend that anyway!) The narrator doesn't really do anything wrong, but her performance never seemed to smooth out as the book went along. Just the opposite in fact, so try before you buy!
1. The story is a crime solving procedural in a sci-fi setting, and both sides of that are very well done! If you don’t care for either of those genres this probably isn’t for you. If you like one more than the other and the plot sounds interesting then I’d say give it a go. Just don't go in expecting a dystopia or a panicked medical thriller.
2. Confused about the two narrator options? There’s nothing in one version you might miss by choosing the other, so listen to the samples and go with your favorite. They really are two readings of the same book! Yes, there’s something a bit clever behind having different narrator options, but I'll let you discover what it is on your own. Both narrators do a fantastic job, so really you can’t go wrong.
3. There’s an attached novella at the end, a faux nonfiction-style account of the beginnings of Haden’s Syndrome. It originally came out as an optional prequel so you can choose to read it first or last. If you want to jump to it first, it’s 2 h 15 min into the second download on the Wil Wheaton version, 2:58:30 on the second download of Amber Benson’s. The novella’s many narrators were a great touch but overall I found the novella too scattered to add much. I had no problem jumping into the main story without reading it first, and I'm glad I didn't bother.
As for my personal impressions? Fun book! Not too dark, not too fluffy, good pacing, likeable characters and interesting concepts -- I can see a lot of people enjoying this one. I don’t normally seek out procedurals, but the quick pace and sci-fi quirkiness kept things fresh. The Scalzi fans are going to be happy! I’m beginning to recognize Scalzi’s humorous touches and short and sweet closes. When I got to the end I wanted to talk to someone about the story, so I guess I’m going to have to start recommending this so I can! (I’d also love to know who catches the extra little bit of social commentary without being told first…. Yet another reason I need to go push this book on people!) There’s room in the world building for more stories in this setting. I don’t really expect one, but if there ever is a sequel I’d definitely buy it!
As good as the first! And hurray, we get to hear part of the story from Graham’s point of view too! He was a favorite of mine from the first book and I was so glad he didn’t fade into the background. This time the POV alternates among Reid, Emma, Graham, and Brooke, with the same great narrators from before sharing out the reading time.
Now that filming as wrapped, our newly disbanded acting troupe spends this book trying to figure out what to do next, both professionally and romantically. You can expect plenty more soap opera worthy hijinks, and in some ways these are more blatant this time around. I spent a lot of time looking forward to what I hoped would be quite a comeuppance for dirtier players in these soap opera schemes! And the love story that balances things out is wonderfully sweet. (Did I mention I love Graham? Oh wait, yes. Yes I did.)
If you enjoyed the first book you’ll be happy with this one too. It’s the third book in the series that I’ve heard raves about so I’m doubly happy to continue on with this series!
This is an older teen soap opera on a movie set, and must have been just what I was in the mood for because I gobbled it up over the weekend. And I do mean *soap opera*, and in a good way. That’s pretty much all you need to know to tell whether or not you’re in the mood for this book. I’m very glad the series isn’t over and these kids have a lot more life to live – I’m downloading the next book as I type, feeling confident that it’ll be as fun and juicy as this one!
There are two main characters, Reid and Emma, and the story flips back and forth between them. Emma was my favorite of the two, so I’m hoping we’ll hear more from her in the next book but haven’t wanted to peek ahead to see yet. Reid in particular has a lot more growing up to do, which I’m guessing he continues to do as the series moves along. This book served to show us more of his starting point in that journey than his finish line, but with (at least) three books more to come that’s to be expected. So don't go in expecting a standard quick romance novel set-up, where you know exactly who ends up with whom from the beginning and you see the expected HEA within 8 hours. Seriously, soap opera!
This is the second book I’ve read by this author and I love the way she writes. She conveys description and character insight without clogging the story. The narrators did a great job too, and you could tell they came in completely prepared. If you’re in the mood for a well-written YA soap of a story, I’d recommend this one! And at the current price it’s a total steal!
(So naturally here I am writing one. But don't worry, this will be completely spoiler-free!)
I’ve been struggling with the best way to review Allegiant. I think the best way is discuss it as lightly as possible.
AVOID ALL THE REVIEWS! Spoilers would ruin the story, and this is one of those books where everyone will be tempted to spill the beans! Seriously, if you’ve gotten this far you already know if you want to continue, so close your eyes and put in your earphones and go for it.
Now, without giving anything away, I’ll say these few things. The first book in the series showed us Tris’s view of the world through a very close lens. The second book still showed the world through Tris’s eyes, but expanded the focus outward – her world expanded a bit. This third book shows us the broadest view yet. The camera lens has gone wide focus, and part of that includes showing us the world through Tobias’s eyes. Tris and Tobias take turns relating the story to the readers, giving us their inner thoughts and impressions along the way, which is why there are two narrators this time around. It’s very well done. I loved hearing more from Tobias, and seeing how Tris and Tobias try to embrace their chosen values from different directions.
If you avoid reading anything in advance you’ll have no idea where this book is going. You may think you do at several points along the way, but the road to the end result takes a few dramatic turns. I can see why the reviews are so very mixed. My own opinions on the way things ended up are…divergent. I can see several sides but don’t want to risk saying more than that.
Overall, this was very good, not quite great, and never the least bit boring. Left me a little bit stunned. The narration was excellent, and if you’ve read the previous books than you already know if you want to read this too. Now close your eyes and run away from the vast sea of potential spoilers!
Sharon Shinn is a lovely writer, and I’ve been fond of Jennifer Van Dyck’s narrations since I first heard her read. Buying this book was an easy decision!
The world-building was excellent, and I especially liked the magical elements. Each person has a special affiliation to a magical element, as well as three magical “random blessing” tokens given at birth. It gave a unique flavor to a storyline where several strong families have a lot of political pull along with the king. Fans of the author might see this as a nod to the Twelve Houses series taken in an entirely new direction.
The first half of the book had a lot of traveling around, learning all there is to learn about a new place, and then moving along and starting over. I find that can get dull, so I was glad when Zoe finally found her real place in the story about midway through and the plot picked up. The move from vagabond to high court was a big plus.
There’s a strong young adult feeling to this storyline even though Zoe is one of the few young adults. It’s not so much the characters themselves, but more the way big life changes and magical powers occasionally bloom forth and are accepted by everyone. There are a lot of nice, gentle people who look out for one another. Horrible things are more likely to happen in faraway places. Magic can save the day.
The book ends very solidly, but it looks like a follow-up book has just been published. Ah, now all that world-building makes more sense! But this could easily be read as a stand-alone book if you don’t want to commit to a series. I was very surprised to see one reviewer call this book a cliff-hanger. All the main conflicts get resolved, so don’t be worried if series aren’t your thing.
Overall this was a relaxing, easy listen, nicely written and well narrated. Not Shinn’s best, but a pleasing little fantasy story (once it got going), and I’ll be getting the follow-up book. But then, series are my thing. ;)
I waited a few months before picking up this second book in the series, hoping for a break from the endless harping about the paparazzi which clogs up the first book. Now I can happily report the paparazzi harping is much more proportional to the plot this time around!
And I’m laughing at myself as I type that because in spite of that I still enjoy these books. The story picks up right where we left off with Taryn, Ryan and the gang. No big missing gaps of time or anything. This book might have been a touch less absorbing than the first but that’s just me splitting hairs. Maybe it’s more that Taryn and Ryan are gaining a bit more emotional stability, so it felt safe to put down the headphones without worrying that they’d fall to pieces if left untended! Overall there was less urgency in this book, both between the main characters and in the plot. I preferred the urgency in the first book and the reduced paparazzi harping in this one.
The secondary characters got a lot of air time which added a lot to the storyline. In fact, I’ve heard a rumor that the next book in the series is going to switch around some of the main and secondary characters, and after liking several of them so much in this book that sounds like a great idea! It’s going to be called Love Unguarded, which makes the rumor that Mike will be one of the characters in the spotlight (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!) sound even more likely. No set date yet, but from what I’ve heard it won’t be out until sometime in 2014.
Anyway, if you liked the first book there’s a good chance you’ll like this one too. These books aren’t deep and they’re not going to change your world, but they’re a good fit when you’re in the mood for a sweet, sappy, easy romance. Nothing fast-moving, no nail-biting, just slow, easy sap with a slightly different backdrop. And a great narrator! So if you were on the fence about liking the first book and were hoping for a big sweeping change… Nope, this book’s not for you.
Lovely writing, rich settings, detailed characters, great story! The first few hours were a little slow, but once things got going I didn’t want to stop listening! This surprised me several times, which is a very good thing. I really want to gab about this book so it’s going to be hard to discuss without giving too much away!
This is a fantasy first and foremost, and like many fantasies it’s also a coming of age story. On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Elisa is married to the king of a neighboring kingdom, and she realizes she doesn’t really know why the marriage needed to take place and that no one thought to tell her (and we readers notice she didn’t think to ask!). She begins to take steps towards adulthood by asserting herself and making some of her own decisions. It’s not long before the plot takes a dramatic turn and Elisa takes great leaps along with it. That’s when things start to really get good! Magic, political power struggles, war, adventure… Expect plot turns and a good dose of girl power!
I loved that Elisa is full-figured and not shy about enjoying food. As the story moves along she learns more about balance, but her body image and self-confidence issues made her very easy to relate to. I also loved that none of the characters were perfect on close examination. You could tell the author really knew everything about her characters and her beautiful settings – everything's so well detailed!
The magic and sorcery elements in the storyline come from the story's religion. Princess Elisa was “chosen” to carry a magic gemstone in her naval soon after she was born (okay, the naval bit is a little funny), and through it she’s in very slight communication to higher powers and possibly magics. Praying and sacred texts show up a lot, but in a way that moves the story forward rather than slowing the pace. The author took some elements from Christianity to start this fantasy religion and then totally went her own way with it. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then this probably isn’t the book for you! Also, to any die hard romance novel readers out there, this is NOT a “girl meets boy and of course he’s her fated true love and they live happily ever after” story. There are romantic elements, but Elisa is the main focus instead of her romantic life, if that makes sense. Her story isn’t over. So pass on this one if that will be a deal-breaker for you.
This is the first book in a series but you could read it as a stand-alone. No terrible cliffhangers loom at the end, this gets to a reasonable conclusion with room for more to come later. I’ll definitely be getting the next books! Jennifer Ikeda reads beautifully. Once and a while her pace seemed a little more measured than I’d prefer, but she’s wonderful with voices and accents, and I’ll always be glad to see her name listed as narrator.
Highly recommended for lovers of fantasies and coming of age stories about girls you can really root for!
I tried this because I’d heard it compared to Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. Nope, they both take place in the space-faring future but that’s it. I knew this was going to be hard sci-fi and I tend more towards character-driven work, but yikes!
If you really like sitting around bantering about engines and false physics for long stretches of time, and wouldn’t mind being a nonparticipant in the conversation, then this book may be for you. Don’t worry, the storyline won’t interfere with all the talk of nuts and bolts – you’ll mostly just get quickie updates on what happened after the fact.
That’s what drove me nuts (without the bolts). Every time it looked like we were going to get see an exciting bit of the plot as it happened, the main character would leave the area and take us away with him. We’d hear a few sentences on the outcome later. Really! It was like getting constant teasers about how much fun the book could have been but wasn’t. The authors were trying to drive home what a useless bit of fluff Prince Roger started out to be, so every time he skipped out on the action, so did we.
So the book started out like a spaceship parts registry with a lot about Roger’s primping and fussing, and then later moved on to something like a detailed map and customs guidebook with a lot about Roger’s primping and fussing. But hey, those authors really knew their maps!
And here is where I confess that this is one of the only audios out of hundreds I never finished. I made it about three-quarters of the way through and then realized I’d been turning to the radio instead of my mp3 player for over a week. I liberated my player and moved on. No complaint about the narrator – the sample is a good representation of his reading style. His voice is a little low to give him much range for voice work, but he does a good job.
Overall, hardcore hard sci-fi junkies only! Others need not apply. I take it that’s why this book is so highly rated here at audible – most people caught the memo and knew before downloading whether or not they’d like the book.
I need to read more from Maria V. Snyder! She just tells good, easy-to-read stories.
This was great! I kept trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes before putting my earphones down. This has action, adventure, the barest touch of romance and some interesting world-building. I don’t know if it’s the author or the combination of the author and narrator or what, but the storyline maintains excitement without making you feel too anxious even during the more desperate moments. That’s what I mean by easy to listen to!
The setting is fantasy with a slight post-apocalyptic edge. (And yes, it is fantasy. The writing is feminine, but this isn’t a romance novel so be warned if that’s your preference! Every now and again this gets misclassified.) Avery’s constantly on the run for her life but there are people out there who know who she is, and now a new group (or two, or three!) has plans for her that may have far-reaching political implications. Needless to say, that's just the beginning and then things get complicated. Somehow I was a bit worried that a story about someone whose magic involved being sick or injured would be a bit of a downer, but it wasn’t at all. The male lead did slightly remind me of the male lead from Snyder’s Poison Study series, but fear not, this is very much its own storyline.
Overall, fun story with a few unexpected twists, engaging characters, and nice narration. I’ve already bought the next in the series and give this two thumbs up. Strongly recommended!
I wanted to love it, I really did! Anybody remember that television series Roswell? I thought that was a fun show, and I kept seeing this compared to it so I jumped right in.
And that comparison is exactly the problem. Yes, this is very strongly influenced by that show. So strongly that it’s hard not to constantly compare the two, but this book never came out on top.
I’m struggling to express exactly why I didn’t like this more, and I think the main reason is that I never fully connected emotionally with the characters. The author was probably trying for “aloof and mysteriously cool” with the aliens, but hit “standoffish and disinteresting” with most of them instead. There’s one friendly girl, but even the main love could have used a few more cracks in his armor. He only shows physical interest in the female lead for most of the book and never has anything nice to say. He started to show a little more personality by the end, but he’s usually distant and a bit cruel, and it looks like that may continue instead of ease up. Maybe I would have liked this better if I hadn’t seen the show?
The action picks up at the end, but by then I was ready to be finished. No complaints about the narrator at all. I just…oh dear, mostly this made me want to watch that drippy, emotional, soap-opera of a tv show instead of read.
Overall there’s nothing particularly wrong with this, but there’s nothing particularly shiny about it either. I doubt I’d read another book in this series.
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