What begins as a routine journey on the luxurious Orient Express soon unfurls into Agatha Christie's most famous murder mystery. This all-star production features lead performances from Tom Conti ( The Dark Knight Rises, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence) as Hercule Poirot, Sophie Okonedo ( After Earth, Hotel Rwanda and Ace Ventura) and Eddie Marsan ( Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta and Hancock) plus a full supporting cast.
This is an excellent telling of Murder on the Orient Express and works well as an audio drama because so much of the story is dialogue.
While those who have never read the book or seen a film adaption may not find this the best place to start, I think existing fans will enjoy this version.
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Beginning with the Palm Sunday battle of Towton, the bloodiest ever fought on English soil, Wonders Will Never Cease relates the fabulous adventures of one man and his noble family amid the chaos and political intrigue that beset England during the War of the Roses, when two great houses battled for control of the throne. The young Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales and brother to the future queen, Elizabeth Woodville, seems to die during that battle and be resurrected.
This novel is in many ways more like a collection of short stories or even fairy tales held together with a larger framing story. The stories match the medieval setting and often mirror or parody legends and fairy tales, so the subject matter is often suitable grim and violent.
The writing is engaging and pulls you in, and most of the stories are enjoyable in their own right, though obviously not all will be enjoyed by all. Still, I honestly think I lack the literary/historical chops to grok the big picture or the point of this book, so I imagine those more well versed in Arthurian lore will get more out of it than I did.
The protagonist is pretty unlikeable, and the book has a lot of the sort of sexism you'd expect from a medieval setting, but at least at the end the hero is self aware enough to recognize he's potentially a villain.
It's a hard book for me to review because I can see the glimmers of what's behind the curtain even if I don't fully perceive what's backstage.
The narration is quite good and matches the immediacy and abrupt nature of the writing.
A resident of one of LA's toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores. East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence.
A re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes that does enough to pay homage but still breaks away enough to stand out among the countless takes on the character.
IQ is in many ways a re-imagning of Sherlock Holmes in modern day LA, but while the lead is brilliant and flawed he is not just a simple reskin of the existing character. His sidekick is named Dotson and rhymes with Watson, but again the character serves as a new take on the role of side kick and not just Dr. Watson transported to a different time, place and culture.
The book gets started with an exciting and very unique cold open as IQ runs down a pedophile, and the meat of the book is half mystery solving and half an origin story for IQ, and I enjoyed both components. The mystery involves a plot to murder a popular rapper, while the origin story looks at a genius left to make his own way in a harsh world at a young age.
I cannot relate at all to the reality of living somewhere like Compton, so I have no idea if the take on hip hop culture and life in the hood portrayed here is accurate or a caricature. I enjoyed the characters for the most part and was invested in IQ and Dotson's development as well as in the outcome of the investigation.
I really liked the way the Ide made IQ intelligent but also grounded. Some of his observations were long shots, but others just felt like good reasoning paired with exhaustive grunt work, which I appreciated.
On an audio note, Sullivan Jones did a splendid job with the narration for IQ. His voice and pacing were pleasant to listen to, and he excelled at giving most of the major characters a unique voice. You could always tell which character was doing the talking, even without X Said prompts, but it wasn't like each character had an outrageous accent or anything. The book moves between frantic action and surprising emotion, and Sullivan keeps pace.
After inciting rebellion against Earth throughout Titan's off-world colonies, Kale Trass learns that leadership isn't only about fighting. Keeping control of his people--even his own family--requires a different set of skills. Following a pivotal battle over Saturn, Kale travels deep into enemy territory under the guise of seeking peace, though peace is the last thing on his mind. Malcolm Graves used to be an infamous Collector for a powerful Earther corporation--and then he nearly lost his life on Titan. Now he's retired. But when Kale's wake of destruction follows Malcolm to Mars and claims the life of a friend, it's time for the ex-Collector to dust off his pulse-pistol and leap back into a fight he thought he'd left behind. With the solar system divided, heroes are few and short-lived ... but someone has to put the self-proclaimed King Trass of Titan in his place.
Note: I received a promotional copy of this audiobook.
Titan's Wrath is set in a future where ruthless corporations run everything and parts of our solar system have been settled. We follow a washed-up, alcoholic bounty hunter as well as a young, naive freedom fighter who is leading the residents of Titan in a revolt against the status quo.
The first part of this book moved too slowly for me and embraced too many cliches, but a twist in a major character's arc made for a much more interesting Acts II and III, and it also served the purpose of validating earlier complaints.
Part of the problem in getting into the book is unlikable protagonists, but that complaint is partially resolved by the twist part way through and that dislike ends up being a pro rather than a con within the context of the story. (hope that's vague enough not to be a major spoiler.)
Parts of the world building were interesting to me, even if some bits of tech seemed more fantasy than science fiction. I liked the corporate-dominated setting, particularly the bits of the story set on Mars and the interactions with the Church of the Three Messiahs.
The book features plenty of action and a lot of violence, and many of the characters are macho and ready with one liners for each situation. Still, the story is an enjoyable use of cliches, especially as you get farther along and the arc of one of the protagonists character development becomes more clear.
That said, I think the tidy resolution was a bit of a cop out, and I almost would have preferred a full descent into evil rather than a last-minute, partial redemption.
On an audio note, the narrator does a respectable job, 3/5 stars. He manages most of the gruff male characters quite well, and his voice for most of the female leads was different enough to read feminine but not falsetto enough to be off putting, however one female character's read did come across as more shrill than anything else, which was a bit grating and made me grow to dislike the character more than I would have otherwise. Still, overall a good read.
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Take one bored princess. Make her the seventh daughter in a very proper royal family. Have her run away. Add one powerful, fascinating, dangerous dragon. Princess Cimerone has never met anyone (or anything) like the dragon Kazul. But then, she's never met a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird or a stone prince either. Princess Cimerone ran away to find some excitement. She's found plenty.
Dealing with Dragons was one of my favorite books as a child, and I recently listened to it again as an adult.
As far as books for older children/younger teens go, this is about as good as it gets. The story is breezy but not without impact, and it has a charming sense of humor that keeps the plot moving along while poking fun at countless fairy tale tropes. All of the tried and true truths of the genre are parodied here, and it's one of the book's strong suits.
In addition to the fun take on fairy tale classics, Dealing with Dragons is a great book for young people, particularly young girls. Cimorene rejects so many helpless maiden tropes and instead is clever and loyal and determined through thick and thin. While the book parodies many fairy tale tropes, it also makes a point to rebut some of the more egregiously sexist themes of classic fairy tales and fables.
I can't say how this book holds up if you read it for the first time as an adult, but it's a book I'd strongly recommend to readers of the appropriate age or anyone who enjoys satirical takes on classic fairy tales.
The full cast production available through Audible is good but not amazing. It's great to have unique voices for many of the cast and I think the narrator does a great job of carrying the story, and the dragons are appropriately gravelly, but, I think because the books are meant for children the speed and cadence seemed a little too slow or nursery-rhymish for me personally.
Experience Star Wars: A New Hope from a whole new point of view. On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the 40h anniversary, more than 40 contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the 40 short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character.
With 40 short stories this is sort of a mixed bag, but most are enjoyable and several are excellent. Some are serious, some are silly, and some are meta while others clearly aim to be canon.
If you obsess about Star Wars, this is a wonderful insight into A New Hope, but if you're not into all the inside baseball of the universe you may enjoy it.
The destruction of the Death Star by the Rebel Alliance was a decisive blow against the Empire, but Palpatine and his monstrous enforcer, Darth Vader, are no less of a threat. The brutal extermination of Alderaan not only demonstrated the magnitude of their murderous power, but served as a chilling testament to their resolve to crush the Rebel uprising. Standing against them, Skywalker, Solo, and the Princess remain uncertain opponents. Luke is gifted and brave, but unschooled in the power he possesses.
Allegiance is one of my favorite Star Wars story because it shows Stormtroopers who are human and believe in a cause. It also heavily features Mara Jade, which is also fun.
The title is also the theme of the book and we follow Jade, five storm troopers, Han and Luke as well as Leia as the action unfolds. The storm troopers are the main characters, and the five make for an enjoyable cast of heroes to root for. The excellent narration helps, as each of the five gets a unique voice to go along with their personality.
Professional heroes kill and loot deadly monsters every day, but Gorm Ingerson's latest quest will be anything but business as usual. The adventuring industry drives the economy of Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. Monsters' hoards are claimed, bought by corporate interests, and sold off to plunder funds long before the Heroes' Guild actually kills the beasts. Of course, that's a terrible arrangement for the Shadowkin; orcs, goblins, kobolds, and their ilk must apply for to become Noncombatant Paper Carriers to avoid being killed and looted by heroes.
I dont want to give you unrealistically high expectations by comparing Orconomics to a Terry Pratchett book because it's not as good as Discworld, but at the same time I think Pratchett fans will enjoy this story.
The book leans heavily into tabletop RPGs for its lore and many of its jokes, so I'd say that those unfamiliar with DnD and Pathfinder etc will miss alot of what makes this story fun.
The first half feels a little slow and perhaps aimless, but as things develop in the latter half the plot and twists become a lot more interesting and rewarding. The moral of the story is a good one and will resonate with anyone who has found the black and white nature of orcs vs humans in fantasy as lacking nuance.
The book drew more "Oh, that's clever!" reactions than actual laughs, but I'm not one for laughing out loud while reading under the best circumstances.
All in all I enjoyed the ride and look forward to the sequel, and I'd recommend this to fantasy fans and tabletop players.
The narrator does a good job of voicing orcs and dwarves and such, and there is a cool sequence with orc language layered over the translation, but in some places the narrators' comedic timing seemed a little off, which made some pinch lines less zippy than they could have been. But, overall he rates above average.
Like many before them, Cara and her family ventured through the gates as scientists and researchers, driven to carve out a new life and uncover the endless possibilities of the unexplored alien worlds now within reach. But soon the soldiers followed, and under this new order, Cara makes a discovery that will change everything.
This is a fine addition to the Expanse and my favorite of the short stories so far. The setting allows for some of the more out there Sci fi of the series while still feeling grounded in what has come before.
The point of view coming from a child who has never seen Earth is an interesting lense from which to view the idea of colonizing a new planet/dealing with the proto molecule and it works well here.
Jefferson Mays continues to be excellent in his narration, reading in a way that carries the story while conveying the emotion without overdoing it. It's also nice that his voice and style translate well at higher listening speeds.
When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry Potter, his wand hand is blackened and shrivelled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort's darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny....
If you're reading a review of book six you've read the others and know what you're in for. Enjoy!
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