I'm sure I can't say here anything that hasn't already been said, however I was so impressed, I felt like I had to. I also don't want to reveal anything, because the minimal knowledge I had before listening made the unfolding of the story so much more fun! This was such a solid listen on all fronts. The characters were engaging, the story interesting, the source of the mystery was terrific. By the time it had ended I wanted to hear more!
The absolute best thing, though, was the narrator. If there were some way I could give Ray Porter more than 5 stars, I'd give him an enthusiastic 10! His accents were credible, pronunciation:impeccable, and timing and flow: spot on! The thing I loved the most is that his interpretation never got in the way of the story he was telling. I've never found a narrator, aside from Jim Dale, I felt I would gush about - Ray Porter is gush-worthy!
There was so much more Alan Bradley could have done with this book that I find it especially disappointing. Flavia is marvelous, as always, and I was really looking forward to reading about her in a school setting. The joys of having access to a whole new set of information, meeting kids her own age, making lifelong connections – this could have been several books of watching Flavia grow in an environment that could hone her skills and with people who could challenge her in new ways. Instead, we got an uneven and choppy book that felt like filler rather than something that advanced Flavia’s story.
Flavia noticing things other people don’t at home made sense a combination average village life dulling the senses of the adults around and an extraordinarily precocious child make for a perfect combination. Miss Bodycote’s is, however, supposed to be home to a group of people dedicated to turning out, for lack of a better term, spies. And yet Flavia easily gets away with her tricks, no one has noticed the bits of the mystery that she does, and no one will really talk to her about what’s going on when she's supposed to be part of an inner sanctum. Quite honestly, the story practically doesn't make any sense at all.
So why three stars when I really wanted to give it two? Because it’s Flavia. I really do adore the character and there are a few others introduced I thought were fun and interesting.
As for the performance – Jane Entwistle always gets 5 stars. Her narrative style is terrific: pronunciation, pacing, and characterization are always top notch!
The story was entertaining, if not earth shattering. Honestly I think I would have liked this book better had I read it myself. While the narrator's voice wasn't bad (if a bit flat), her pronunciation was terrible (Especially considering the narrator of the first book was quite good). The biggest example is the word "mage." In Brit or American English it has a single pronunciation, and if she was trying to use the french pronunciation, even that was wrong. Considering how often the word "mage" is used, it's incredibly grating. Then there are the inconsistencies in pronunciation from book to book of character and place names. The editors on this audio didn't do their job.
If poor pronunciation drives you to distraction, give this one a pass.
So you don't waste your credit on this book I'm going to sum up the entire middle of it for you: Hell is awful, Bobby Dollar is an idiot, Cas is really beautiful. No, really Hell is every bit as bad as you ever imagined, Bobby Dollar has the decision making skills of a hormonally carbonated adolescent, and Cas is the hottest thing since the sun! We know that cause we're hit over the head with it over, and over, and OVER.
I kept expecting Dollar to stop at some point and say "Hey, something must be up here, because I'm this angel who was a pretty big bad ass, so this thinking with my genitalia about a woman, whose only redeeming quality is her looks has to stop." At which point the plot would advance.
The only reason this thing makes 2 stars is the beginning and end were decent. Not enough to make up for the middle, though. Not even close. Also the narrator was good, so should be acknowledged.
Don't get me wrong, I *love* the Harry Potter series - but this is a totally different animal. The only things they have in common are magic and infinitely listenable writing styles.
I don't know what I can add that others have not - I have never read/listened to a police procedural that was quite this detailed before - but I also haven't read many. I really enjoy the way Peter, the main character takes what he's learned from being a cop in general and transitions it to dealing with his wholly new experiences with the supernatural.
This is a very adult novel, it's got some horrific scenes, as well as use of language, and sexual situations. None of it is gratuitous, however, it all slides well into the story.
I read a couple of pans involving how british this book is - in that there are some words and phrases americans wouldn't necessarily get. The book was written for a british audience and I don't mind popping over to google to look up "punter" (cause it certainly isn't talking about football players) and other such words as well as place names I wouldn't know by hearing in the book.
As a narrator, for the most part Holdbrook-Smith does a bangup job. He does most of the accents so well, that when he flubbed one by not being able to maintain it, I still gave him a pass. The only thing that really gets on me are the occasional mouth noises that leave me wanting to say "swallow!". I enjoy that he acts the book as opposed to just reading it and I'm glad he does the whole series as it's been published in the US so far.
I really recommend this book to those who enjoy urban fantasy. Particularly fans of Harry Dresden. He has some fun takes on issues Dresden has encountered (such as magic farbing technology) and the main character's enjoyable wit, along with self expressed flaws put me in mind of that series. Though once again - different animals, but equally as enjoyable.
I admit it: I’m a scifi, fantasy, YA kinda reader/listener. I like light reading; “The Help” is the deepest book I’d gotten into for a loooong time before this one. So why did I pick this up? A woman I know is Mary Johnson’s sister, and she mentioned it, so I read the synopsis and thought “Why not?”
Never did I think a book this deep could “read” so easily. It was marvelous to have the author do the reading as well. She did most every accent brilliantly and I could see her “characters” through the voices she used. Mary Johnson’s story is fascinating, even if it’s difficult because of it's deeply personal nature. There were times I cringed for her, but her style of writing made is so clear and lovely, I couldn't stop listening. I wanted to know what she would choose to do next.
The thing that was toughest for me was the feeling that in the early years of Mary’s involvement with the MC’s had too many parallels to an emotionally abusive relationship. Add to that the king rat tangle of Mother Teresa’s focus on suffering and slavish devotion to dogma, the inability of many sisters to truly lead rather than intimidate, and a lack of methods for proper communication within the order and you can't help but see what hinders a group that does so much good, yet could be so much more not only for the poor, but for the sisters themselves.
To balance that, for all Ms. Johnson does to reveal the faults and flaws of the Missionaries of Charity, her obvious love for the good of it shines through. She shows clearly those sisters and Priests who are amazingly real human beings that manage to transcend the limitations and reveal the love that is Mother Teresa's most basic message for the order.
Mary Johnson takes us down a rough road with such integrity, intellect, and thoughtfulness; you can’t help but want to take this trip with her.
This book (and the series in general) remind me of a good beer. It's unlikely to change your life, but an enjoyable way to spend some time away from your everyday.
What really *makes* this book though (aside from the interactions between Atticus and Oberon) is Luke Daniels' narration. Does passable accents, smooth reader and characterization of the Widow McDunnah and voice for Oberon is flat out fun. Takes the book from a drinkable Corona to a flavorful microbrew..
I read the reviews, and thought this may have been better than "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" but felt it suffered from the same downfall.
The Vampire Stuff. It just felt shoehorned in. Like this was a biography of Lincoln and the author said hmmmmmmmm... I think we could throw a vampire in here... and here... and here... Absolutely no flow, whatsoever.
However it also had same upside as P&P&Z - as that inspired me to read *all* of Jane Austen's books. And really, that's the only reason this book is getting three stars from me: it might stir kids' interest in history. The book includes plenty of quotes from historical figures about Lincoln and by Lincoln himself, plus facts about his life. That writing alone would have made this an enjoyable biography.
What this book reminds me of, though, is those dishes from the 50's that incorporated all kinds of vegetables in jell-o. We want to get kids to eat veggies, so we'll suspend them in this sweet, jiggly medium! Genius!
Then you bite into it.
As for the narrator, Scott Holst - decent voice, good pronunciation, however I think he may have been hampered by the writing, as he sounded sort of stilted and choppy in many places.
To me this novel has it all: an epic storyline, fully fleshed out characters, and excellent pacing. It's complex without being complicated, clever without being trite, and explores conflict, and the people involved in that conflict, in shades of grey instead of black and white. Sure, there are characters and situations that are clearly bad and clearly good, but the main characters are depicted as being wholly human. And I love them all the more for it.
I don't want to rewrite a description of the book; the summary does a fine job even if it takes a completely different focus than I would. I think it's to keep from alienating the more common reader/listener of fantasy: men, as the main character of the novel is a woman.
I admit, I had a hard time with the narration. I've listened to Song for Arbonne, also written by Guy Gavriel Kay, and read by Euan Morton; it was an excellent listen. One of the problems is, I've read this book well over 20 times. It's admittedly, not the narrator's fault that he pronounces names differently than I do in my head, so I can't really criticize that. However, the accents were sometimes uneven and the language occasionally stilted. Is the narration, on the whole, bad? No, it just felt like Mr. Euan's reading skills had gotten rusty, or that he just wasn't at his best, which is a shame. This book deserves an a-game.
If there were a way, I'd have given the story 3.5 stars. It says it in the description, but in case you missed it - this audio is two books combined into one audiobook. Which is good choice on the part of the audio publishers. If I'd listened to just the first book, I may not have continued. It's not bad, it's just not something that would inspire me to listen to 5 more books. I didn't really care about the characters and it seemed like a pretty cookie cutter sword and sorcery.
HOWEVER - in the second book, the story really hits it's stride. It's nothing revolutionary, just solid writing with fun characters and an enjoyable storyline. Which, in my opinion, is more than we're getting from a lot of fantasy writers of late. By the time I got to the end of all three audio books I was hoping to find more by this author.
To quote from the author himself about this series: "The Riyria Revelations, especially in the beginning, is little more than fast-paced light fantasy. As the series progresses, I think you'll see more depth both in the world of Elan and the characters. This was a purposeful decision and a dangerous one. It means that by design the first book is the weakest of the set, but enables me to end it with a resounding bang."
And he absolutely did.
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