Skin games is the 15th book in the Dresden Files series and a solid addition to the franchise. After fourteen books you might think that Harry has done just about everything a wizard in the 21st century can do. But things just keep coming at him that we or he don't see on the horizon. Sort of like running aground in the middle of the ocean on a cruise liner with all charts showing open seas. (Could Harry's ability to knock out modern equipment, bring down an ocean liner during a honeymoon cruise?)
Once again James Marsters demonstrates his voice acting ability to bring Harry Dresden's world into living, breathing, characters that make you care about them. James Marsters is the voice of the Dresden Files - at least in 14 out of the 15 audio books. In each he adds depth to the characters - making them come to life in our earphones. Demonstrating the depth of this acting skills by playing all the parts and making us not only believe all of them, but care about them. I first took notice of him as 'Spike' in the 2nd season of the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". His screen presents took what was to be a bit part to a major character in the 7th and final seasons and then, on the the Buffy spinoff Angel.
John Scalzi always seems to come up with new ideas or new twists on old ideas (is there really anything new under the sun?). The premise is one of the most terrifying things that could happen to a person. It’s worse than life imprisonment in solitary confinement. In solitary you can stand, sit, move around (not much, but you can move), smell (but you might not want too), talk, feel, and see. Now imagine a virus that causes millions round the world to die, worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920. Of those that recover 99%, go on with their lives. For other 1% (4 million in the US alone), it causes a person to be locked into their body, awake and aware of the world around them, yet incapable of seeing, moving, or communicating, unable (luckily?) to even taste the gruel that is piped into their body. Hundreds of millions in the US a around the world have been ravished by this disease, and it continues to strike down more victims every year.
But into this chamber of horror comes a ray of light, an open door leading back to the world - in the form an external body that sort of looks like the Droid CP3O. At least that is the style for the First Lady, an early victim of the virus, “Haden’s syndrome”. Named for its most public and well know victim - herself, the President’s wife. The First Lady has been given the first external body – our hero - Chris Shane, a child at the time, was granted the second, a child size version and becomes Haden’s syndromes second most famous victim. Yet through the adversity Chris becomes a beacon of hope for those suffering from this modern black plague. More than twenty years have gone by since the first outbreak; Chris is now a fledgling FBI agent and is trying to step out of the spotlight, into making a real life.
The second day on the job, the rookie Chris and new partner Agent Vann meet in front of the Watergate Hotel. The meeting spot is next to car that is sporting a love seat – embedded in the roof after being thrown through a seventh floor window. From this point on you are trapped in a twisted and totally enjoyable world pulled from the mind of John Scalzi.
A truly wondrous place to be.
On the narrators:
One of the more interesting curves is that Scalzi never hints at Chris Shane’s sex. So having Amber Benson and Wil Wheaton narrate individual versions is now more reasonable to me. I picked Amber’s version and wish that I had also picked up Wil’s so I could have compared them in their entirety. I have been a fan of both actors since the days of Star Trek, the Next Generation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I decided on Amber’s version because I had the pleasure of catching Wil on several other books and I wished to hear Amber tackle this project.
Amber Benson, held her own as a late comer to Buffy. Even surrounded by a powerful cast of actors, she stood out early enough to really earn the prized role of Willow’s (Alyson Hannigan) better half, through 47 episodes. Narrating, “Locked In” Amber seems to start off slow – but then you realize that she is reading a report from a government agency, so it’s going to be a bit flat. The characterization starts building from Chapter 2 and, for the most part, is strong and clear. Very captivating, it allows you to lean back and take pleasure in the theater of the mind that John and Amber weave for you.
One note on Wil’s reading – I have only heard the five minute sample of his interpretation of the text, and it’s typical Wheaton. Crisp, clear and full of impact, and swift - it seems powerful and should also be a good experience.
How can a manager build a team who break the rules, end up in front of a hearing board, and yet succeed in the face of impossible odds where many others have failed. In, "The B-Team" we are treated to an example of an unlikely group, thrown together, who succeed while breaking the rules. A really fun story.
Oscar Wilde has a totally irreverent and completely sarcastic view of Victorian life style and morals. The play is done so earnestly and with tongue so firmly in cheek it is a wonder that the dialog is as clear and understandable as it is. Wilde's attempt to lampoon the more absurd conventions of his day are firmly spiked by James Marsters, who wears his role as comfortably as a favorite pair of loafers.
While the topic could be interesting, the way this book is written and read is a non-drug cure for insomnia.
"A Concise History of the Middle East, Ninth Edition", "Power, Faith, and Fantasy", Don Quixote, 1434 or The Prince
Audible carries a large number of books narrated by Arthur Morey. From the number and genres of the writings I must assume that he has done well with them. But, until this tome I had not been exposed to him. Perhaps the author, editor or publisher instructed him to read in a monotone – I don’t know. But, I do know that I kept finding myself dozing off or waking up from his rendition of this text.
If sure that there were some passages or concepts that could be considered "Redeeming Values", but I must have slept through them.
I'd recommend a rewrite - a total rewrite
Is the success of Israel???s business startups a case of ???Chutzpah??? (audacity, brazen nerve, courage, effrontery, incredible 'guts,' mettle, presumption topped off with a little (or large) touch of arrogance) or Davka (despite everything).
The authors of ???Startup Nation??? argue the case of chutzpah quite strongly, and they are right. The people of Israel have had to "make do" in a land with few natural resources, surrounded by hostile nations. Due, in part to this, have become the "go to" place for emerging technologies the computer, science, ecology, medicine, and a host of other fields.
But these successes are as much due to ???Davka??? (often defined as ???despite everything??? or ???just because you want me to disappear from the face of the earth - I will not??? emphasis on the last three words) - the insistence on surviving whatever is thrown at them and turning lemons (or the fruit of trees growing in salt water) into lemonade.
While the general media from around the world is not report the successes of Israeli technology to impact their nations, in many ways people the world daily touch products of the Israeli minds.
I had not stumbled across Michelle Sagara before this - much to my sorrow. This was a was written novella read to perfection by Khristine Hvam.
This is a story about a young girl (lady) crossing the bridge from both her adolescent's in a dangerous area of her city, to the painful time of personal and physical growth on the 'right-side-of-the-tracks(bridge) in the 'good' part of town.
Khristine Hvam did a great job with the reading of this book, further enhancing my respect for her vocal talents.
And the best part was that it was free - but I did purchase "Cast in Shadow: Chronicles of Elantra, Book 1" due to this novella.
I thought that this was a audio version of the movie, but it was not. Rather it was a biography of Lyle Logue the Kings speech pathologist - not bad - but not what I was looking for.
Simon Vance was able to bring some life into the story.
For the most part this was a time filler - don't think I will bother with it again.
Pirates and slavery were a historical problem in the Mediterranean for centuries prior to Jefferson's birth. Roger Crowley chronicled this in his book "Empires of the Sea". This plague on the people of the Mediterranean, and the World, was ended by Jefferson's Barbary War's. The ingenuity, courage, and daring of the American troops and their leaders changed the the path of history and secured support of the major European to end this blight.
The writing was interesting and the reading was good and at times powerful. This a book that should be read to gain a viewpoint of the attitude of many of the leaders and people Muslim world toward the "unbelievers" or infidels. A problem that we, or children and future generations will have to deal with.
This was a necessary book. It gives insight to the feelings and processes that shaped the American response over the eight years of the GW Bush Presidency and that have carried on though to the Obama administration. Like the results or not, at least we now have more information, from his viewpoint, on the why, what, and how he functioned.
My feelings toward George W Bush as a President run the gambit of respect and support to frustration, disappointment, and dismay. Perhaps most of the missteps were due to bad advice - but in the end history will only remember that it was his Presidency. Chaney, Rowe, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell or so many others that cycled through his administration will only be footnotes, at best.
Those who are elected to the Presidency are not suddenly granted infinite wisdom (Carter is a good example of this - but I did like his energy policies). Errors in judgments, policies, decisions or actions have a way of taking on a life of their own.and most often can not be returned to the paper that authorized them.
I think that both Presidents Bush did their best, but in the end - while I respect them both - I was disappointed in both. However, I think that they are strong enough to get past that with only a little loss of sleep..
My biggest complaint about this recording is the poor edition. the gaps between chapters are unconscionably long and detract from (and maybe even devalue) the message. I do not have a single audio book in my collect that has gaps like this. I can only wonder if was not an intentional slight - sort of a parting shot at his legacy.
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