This is a superb reading of one of the most compelling and well-written books of American literature. I wanted a book that would be good for a long trip, and it's certainly that. But I had no idea how much I would be drawn into the story of the Joads and of the destruction wrought by the disks of the combines. There are timely and cogent lessons here for us today, with entire states turned over to a mono-culture of corn. But forget the lessons, forget that it is literature, forget that you read it because you had to in school. Read this book because you can't put it down. Even when you know it all ends badly, you _care_.
Sadly, this was one of the worst books I've read this year. I very much enjoyed the first few books in the Cast In series, finding the development of Kaylin's character and the fleshing out of the other Hawks and secondary characters well done and overall making for enjoyable reads. But the last couple of books have been less enjoyable and this one was finally one too far. Every time Kaylin gets in trouble, she suddenly has yet another new power to overcome the problem, and I'm just tired of it. Plus this isn't about the city or the characters in it, but a bunch of weirdness and totally unappealing silliness. Sometimes, authors and publishers just need to let go of a series and start with a new one.
When the second installment in the Archer's Beach trilogy was released by Baen, back in February, I bought it immediately, and also looked to buy the Audible version, since I had so much enjoyed Elizabeth Rodgers reading of Carousel Tides. But it wasn't available and apparently wasn't coming. Fortunately, it all got sorted, and we now have another excellent narration by Ms. Rodgers in Sharon Lee's Archer's Beach trilogy.
For those familiar with Sharon Lee and her Liaden books, the Archer's Beach books are a horse of a quite different colour. Rather than Space Opera, we have pure Maine Fantasy, and what a delight it is. In this second installment, there's a new, if rather questionable, animal for the carousel, and a new person running the midway at Archer's Beach, Peggy Marr. Ms. Mafr is a hot-shot troubleshooter for the corporate types "back away".
When she first comes to Archer's Beach, she's just a bit out of sync with the land and the characters of Archer's Beach, but Peggy quickly gets settled in, and, with the help of Kate Archer, the hereditary Guardian of the Land, gets the midway up and running. Meanwhile, Kate is dealing with not a few problems, both mundane and magical, caused by the local drug lord and by an ozalli from another world who is less than happy about the imprisonment (by The Wise) of his lover.
The narration by Elizabeth Rodgers is excellent and added to my enjoyment of the book. The accent is right for a Maine book, with good pacing and good character separation without resorting to weird voices.
I look forward to the final book in the series, Carousel Seas, whose eBook is due out by the end of the year. Hopefully we won't have to wait 6 months for the Audible version!
I started reading the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch based on a friend's recommendation, and I admit, I wasn't really expecting much. But boy, was I wrong. These are excellent police procedurals, set in modern London, but with magic added to the mix. The characters are vivid, interesting, and believable, and it's a real pleasure to have the protagonist be a constable, not a DCI; a working class person, not posh; and a person of colour, not white.
The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is PERFECT for the books and adds to the enjoyment of the story. Highly recommended.
Like most of the Safehold books (and, in fact, like pretty much everything David Weber writes these days), this is an excellent 500 page book hiding inside a 1000 pages of blather. (or, since this is the audio version, it's an excellent 14 hour book that you need to listen to 28 hours to find.) We do have lots of blowing things up, but also way too much of Merlin wringing his hands and flagellating himself, while there isn't nearly enough development of some of the other characters. But like so many others, I seem to be addicted enough to keep reading.
The narrator for this book, Kevin T. Collins, is the 4th narrator in the 6 books to this point. And, sadly, I'd have to say it isn't one of his better efforts. It's not _bad_, but way too "dramatic" when it shouldn't be. But at least the pacing is, mostly, pretty good.
Off Armageddon Reef was an excellent first book, even though there were the usual Weber moments. But in this second book in the series, those Weber moments drag on to Weber hours, and the overall preachy-ness is much more pronounced. Of course, I did continue to listen to it, and I went right ahead and bought #3 in the series. Which I will, undoubtedly read and grumble about until I finish and buy #4, etc. Weber seems to have the knack of getting me to keep coming back for more, even as I complain about his interminable digressions. This book is read, and read competently, by Oliver Wyman. Nothing special, but perfectly acceptable. He seems to handle the annoying phonetic names well enough, which is good. Character development seems to be OK, though the villains are pretty one-dimensional and without redeeming virtue with one or two exceptions. I did like the turning of an apparent villain into one of the good guys - it was well done and believable.
This is book #15 in the long running and superb Foreigner series from C.J. Cherryh, all of which are available from Audible, read by Daniel Thomas May. And very well read indeed. Mr. May does an excellent job of distinguishing voices without over-hamming it up. I enjoy his readings without ever feeling like it's about him - it's always about the story. Which is one reason I really, really wish this were WhisperSync for Voice enabled. Most of the previous books in the series have been, and I like being able to go back and forth, depending on what I'm doing, and even doing "total immersion reading". So why isn't this book so enabled?
In Peacemaker, we focus almost exclusively on domestic problems (well, domestic if we include a bit of the Station as part of it, which we should.) The long standing domestic problems, which Tabini and Bren have been fighting or dealing with, come to a head, just as Cajeiri's fortunate 9th birthday is about to happen and as his young guests from the Station have come to visit. Cajeiri's young associates from when he was on the ship are on a planet for the very first time. With wind, rain, thunderstorms and lightening, and, of course, macheiti. But everyone is suddenly at extreme risk as the decades long problems in the Guild come to a head.
This book ties up lots of loose ends and is a very satisfying read. We still have many areas to move forward on, but unlike some previous books, this isn't a cliff-hanger for the next. Very enjoyable, and highly recommended, if you've read the previous books. If not, by all means go immediately to the first, Foreigner and get it. You have a wonderful series ahead of you.
Clan Korval is on Surebleak, and the Bosses have started a school. Young Syl Vor, bored by himself in the clan house, moves to the city to live with his mother, Nova yos'Galan to attend school. Meanwhile, the Kompani have saved the life of Rys Lin pen'Chala, a Field Agent of the Department of the Interior who was beaten and left for dead near the underground home of the Kompani and found by Kezzi, a young apprentice healer.
Kezzi is caught as a truant by Mike Golden (Nova's "Hand"), and taken to the school where she meets Syl Vor. Syl Vor proposes her to Nova as his Sister, and they become good friends while building a bridge between the Korval and the Kompani. To tell more would be too much, however.
The story could easily be a simple YA addition to the Liaden Universe, but it actually explores more than that and introduces characters that I think will have a significant influence in the future. And to dismiss it as mere YA is to totally miss the point.
The reader is Eileen Stevens, who is also the reader for the Fledgling Arc of the Liaden Universe. I found her reading quite good, with characters easily distinguished while not being overly intrusive. If I had one complaint it is that when the story switches viewpoints and storylines, which it does regularly, Ms. Stevens didn't provide a "whitespace" break between the story lines. Even a 1/2 second gap would have helped clarity. But really, I'm nitpicking. A thoroughly enjoyable story, and highly recommended. If you're new to the Liaden Universe, this story is essentially standalone, but still probably not the best starting point. I'd start with Balance of Trade, Local Custom, Agent of Change, or Fledgling. Really, any would do, but I think personally I'd go for Agent of Change, which was the very first published book in the series, though not the chronologically first. IAC, if you're just starting, you have a treat ahead of you!
The Nonesuch is a leader of the Corinthian set, a fine horseman, and a man of impeccable taste. Miss Trent is a well-born but impecunious woman forced to take a position as a "Governess/Companion" to a young, beautiful and heartless heiress (Tiffany) of less than noble birth, but surpassing beauty. When the Nonesuch comes to the neighbourhood on a matter of business, he ends up staying well past his original intention. But is it to chase after the heiress? Hardly. This is, after all, a Georgette Heyer novel!
As always, there are many turns and miscues, but it all works out in the end. But it's the characters, the wit and bit of language, and the sheer fun of a Heyer that makes it all so much fun and such a delightful read. The Nonesuch is well read by Eve Matheson, and makes for a great listen.
Book 8 of the Imager series, or book 5 of the "Quaeryt" story arc.
This book continues the story of the founding of Solidar, as Lord Bhayar unifies the continent of Lydar, with Commander Quaeryt leading his Imagers to overcome treason within the forces of Bhayar.
In this volume, Quaeryt continues to move towards building a Scholarium where all Imagers and their families can live and learn while supporting the common good of all. But first he must do battle with elements within the armies of Lord Bhayar that want to put control of the continent in the hands of the army and of the High Holders.
The action level is about typical for this series, but there is thankfully much less of the overt sermonizing. I continue to find the reading of William Dufris excellent, though there are occasional times where I lose track of whether it's Quaeryt or Bhayar speaking towards the second half of the book.
C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series is one of the best alien-interaction series ever written, IMHO, and this is the first book in that series.
The series centers around Bren Cameron whose role is that of the sole interface (Padhi) between humans and the Atevi. Humans have landed on the home of the Atevi, and have been isolated onto a single large island to prevent further wars caused by misunderstandings. The Atevi are a sentient species that is hardwired to think differently from humans and this has led to a previous war that nearly wiped out the human contingent despite the humans far more advanced technology. Bren's job is to be the interface, translator, interpreter, and diplomat between the species, and is the only human living amongst the Atevi.
Foreigner is a complex book, and is the start of a series that develops in complexity over time, but there's a fair amount of world-building that has to happen in this first book. Don't let that put you off, it's more than worth it.
The entire series is read by Daniel Thomas May, and he does a superb job. The voices are easily distinguished without hammy and inappropriate accents, and his reading is never intrusive, but always clear and well-paced. If you're just starting this series, I envy you. Though I find myself going back and re-reading every few years from the very beginning.
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