Firstly, this book is a prequel to two other complete series: the Belgariad, and the Mallorean. Secondly, this book is an "autobiography" covering over seven thousand years. If you have not already read these series and enjoyed Belgarath's character, you WILL NOT enjoy the book. Belgarath's tale is long and often dry, and what saves it is his own dry and self-deprecating wit. In this the author has been very true to the character.
Having read both 'following' series, I very much enjoyed the glimpse into this character's past and mind. 7,000 years of history is a difficult thing to cover well and I think the author did a good job in choosing what to focus on. Occasionally there would be a small tidbit that clashed with previous data (or following data, in his daughter's tale) but given so much history, that is both forgivable and almost inevitable. Nor is Belgarath himself beyond altering facts to make a better story. It's a good book when taken on its own terms, and an enjoyable read to those familiar with the world.
Unfortunately, the Audible Frontiers recording of it is marred by its narrator. This narrator is not actually the worst I've heard, and he probably does fairly well with non-fiction and such. But he was the absolute WRONG choice to narrate this book. Belgararth's wit and humor has been watered down to self-congratulation. The narrator's habit of making every other sentence sound like a question and other issues, turns this wry tale into a dry and PAINFUL one.
The performance. This is a dramatic, intense book, where even a simply 'good' narrator would be greatly challenged. This is NOT a good narrator. Not for romance, and probably not for any kind of fiction, which requires being part actor.
Glancing at my bookshelf, I'd say the closest by another author, at least in tone, is Karen Marie Moning's THE DARK HIGHLANDER. Both stories revolve around a dark a hero, who hasn't always made the best choices in the past, and is now struggling to hold onto the remains of their honor despite terrible circumstances.
At about 3 hours in I can safely say this: The reading tempo is repetitive and irritating. The emotional tempo is a constant, sleepy monotone. The characterization, while it receives +1 for differentiating between characters, gets a big -10 for how poorly they're handled. Listening to it is a real struggle - I end up bouncing between utter boredom and disgusted irritation. I will be returning this audiobook and its sequel by the same narrator. I will not be purchasing any others by this narrator unless a sample shows dramatic improvement.
Don't waste your money/credits.
I'd say an 8-9 out of ten. It doesn't top the Phil Gigante/Jane Brown team-ups which is my absolute ten, and there are very few who can challenge that rank. And it's not THE best single-narrator performance I've heard, but it is very, VERY good.
Years ago, when I read this book for the first time it was not, I must admit, a favorite. It was good, no argument, but I had just read the first two books in the series, and had found them much more compelling, and it was followed by what is probably my all time favorite of the series, so it did not fare well by comparison.
Fast forward some years, and past the boom of the paranormal genre with its plethora of plucky, kickass, take-no-crud heroines, and I've come back to this book and found it a breath of fresh air. Alexandria, to me, is a far more relatable heroine.Thrust violently into a situation over which she has no control, her life totally turned upside down, her ability to fulfill her responsibilities to a beloved 6-year-old brother severely compromised, and her ONLY frame of reference for understanding these events being the research she had done on vampires for a particularly gory and violent set of video games and the sadistic SOB who turned her, she does what any normal, rational, strong-minded individual might do.
She freaks. Badly.
And I have far more sympathy for Aiden this time around. He seemed a little lacking to me on the first read, but finally realized why. I tend to prefer my heros darker and Aiden isn't. He's not an angst-hero, no tortured past, no deep, dark secrets. He's not sweetness and light either, and he has a distinct streak of arrogance, but really he's just a good man stuck in a terrible situation, trying to do the right thing by his woman.
Another thing I found refreshing about it this time is the lack of save-the-word syndrome, or everybody's-a-bastard politics. I enjoy world-building as much as the next girl, in fact my other primary preferred genres are sci-fi and fantasy, but sometimes you just want something simple, black and white, good and evil. At its heart, for all the high emotions and drama, this is a quiet book, and a gentle romance.
He was an excellent choice for this book. Unlike far to many narrators, Mr. Bachmann doesn't simply read the story, he brings it to life, catching just the right tones and rhythms to bring out the drama without going over the top.
Difficult to say. I have insomnia issues and tend to find listening to romances useful for settling my brain down so I can get to sleep, and it can take me awhile to get through a book. On the other hand, I'm sitting here, bleary-eyed, because I finished the last half of this book in one night. Part of that was insomnia, but the other part is because I was enjoying the performance.
Please, please, please use this narrator in the future for romance productions! He has the right touch for dark-heroic archetypes in the genre, something all too hard to find.
All the elements of the actual plot were good and this could have been a great book. But romance stands or falls by its characters, and these hit the ground very hard indeed. Suspicious, cynical, jerk of a male lead. Shallow, obnoxious, know-it-all female lead. Cardboard cut-outs written to template. Impossible to like/respect either of them. Only character I had much respect for was the father. Too bad he wasn't the main character.
Yes. She gives a decent, if uninspiring performance.
I had read this book several years ago, and hated it then too. I purchased the audio edition because I got confused, thinking it was Honor's Splendor, a much, much better book of Garwood's. When I realized my mistake, I thought I'd give it a second chance. Oh, how I wish I hadn't! There are are some books that can be improved by a good performance. This is not one of them. A virtuoso could not redeem this book. Anne Flosnik is adequate, but no virtuoso. I found myself wanting to lynch the pair of them and improve the human race. I am very glad Audible accepts returns because, while I find it difficult to let go of any book I've paid money for, I do NOT want this book in my library, where I might mistakenly read it again.
Well-spent...? I don't think it was wasted, but I couldn't go much farther than that. I listen to audiobooks while I go to sleep (something to stop my mind from spinning in endless circles), and sometimes the narration will be so good, I'll stay awake to hear it. This wasn't one of those times. On the other hand it didn't particularly annoy me either.
No, but I'm more a book than a movie person anyway.
Since I only buy audios that I've already read the book for, I knew what I was getting into. While JAK's MIRA books are generally better than I would expect for Harlequin style, they still suffer from the limitations of the format. An incredible narration could have added a star to the rating, but that's wistful wishing. As is, the narration was about on par with the story.
Hmm, if I were to rate it from among the audiobooks in my collection, on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give it about a 7. That's really not bad, considering I have well over 200 audiobooks on my shelf, and that fact that it's a short story, not a full-blown novel or epic.
Gail Carriger's 'Souless' comes to mind. Not because of any similarities of plot or setting - there are none - but because they both make me laugh.
The hero of course. Phil always makes them come through as believable, human, and downright sexy.
Just to clarify for anyone not familiar with Karen Marie Moning's works - This book does NOT tie-in to her Highlander or her Fever series. 'Into the Dreaming', 'Beyond the Highland Mist' and 'To Tame a Highland Warrior' are all early works where the author was still feeling her way, and stand on their own (although BtHM and TTaHW are both loosely connected to each other.) I highly recommend the audio versions for any of her books - especially those narrated by Phil Gigante, but would suggest you start with either TTaHW or 'The Highlander's Touch'. BtHM is her first book, and has more to do with the kind of story acceptable to publishers at the time of its writing than any of Karen's actual style of plots and/or characterization.
Book Review: Part of me was tempted to give this book lower rating. It's certainly not the best I've read. But when it comes to reviews I try to evaluate a book on its own terms, rather than what I wish it had been, or what I had been expecting, so...
First, it may help to know a few things. 1) This was this author's first published manuscript. 2) It was originally published in 2003 as erotica, under the title 'Fantasy Fix'. It was only later revised and expanded in 2008, and republished as 'One Bite with a Stranger'. 3) It deals with bondage/dominance elements, though I would not go so far as to call it a BDSM novel. So what we have here is a first novel originally written for a different genre than the one it's been shoved into now.
Given all that... Yes it's heavy on the sex. Would I classify it a erotica? No. Barely. However thin it maybe on plot, it's far more story developed than all the examples of erotica I've encountered. It's characterization is adequate for the story it's telling. It does end abruptly - kind of a 'lets wrap up all the loose threads in one go' sort of ending.
As for the story itself - all too believable. Well, not the vampires/werewolves etc being real part. But the character dynamics I can easily see happening. The heroine is sort of wimpish, but that's more a matter of poor character than poor characterization, and we all know friendships/relationships can be complicated. She does display enough flashes of backbone to give the impression of someone lacking confidence rather than lacking strength - a stage most of us go through at some point. And Vidame was hot. In a masterful sort of way.
Audio Review: I found myself pleasantly surprised at how good the narration is in this. A poor reader could have turned this into a torturous listen. I was expecting a decent reader. I got an excellent reader, who made the book come to life.
Book Review: This book was my first Linda Howard experience years back, and is still a beloved read today. The dynamics between the two main characters is treated with a gentle whimsy and good humor that always makes me smile. The same goes for its depiction of some of the trials of life in a small town. Daisy is a classic 'good girl' who I identified with, perhaps too closely for comfort, finally reaching for what she really wants in life. She's more ignorant than naive, a result of her quiet lifestyle. Her steps into the dating scene, however stumbling, are taken without sacrificing her innate goodness. I especially liked that 'nice' was not equated with 'doormat'.
The book does suffer from what I call "villain's disease" - too much seen from the perspective of the bad guys - but even that isn't as bad as it could have been, since Linda Howard tends to write her villains as rounded people rather than cardboard cut-outs. If you're looking for a good, sit-back-and-enjoy book, this is it. If you're looking for heart-stopping suspense...look somewhere else.
Audio Review: This audible marks another first for me. You see, I had borrowed this abridged presentation sometime back from the local library, and enjoyed it very much. But when it comes too my private collection I always, ALWAYS, get the unabridged version. When I saw the full story here on audible I snatched it up - realizing too late that it had a different narrator. Oh well, no big deal, right? Sigh. Big deal. Don't get me wrong here, the unabridged narrator does a decent enough job, I even got a couple hours in. But as it went on I found that I had been spoiled. Kate Forbes had done such a perfect dramatization that a simply decent reading couldn't hack it. So, for the first time, I bought the abridged version on top of the unabridged. And it's worth every cent.
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