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harbinger

Oakland, CA
  • 6
  • reviews
  • 74
  • helpful votes
  • 41
  • ratings
  • Critical Failures VI

  • Caverns and Creatures, Book 6
  • By: Robert Bevan
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Sleep
  • Length: 15 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,060
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,004
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,002

In the wake of their recent loss, the Caverns and Creatures gang are left hanging. Do their choices amount to more than waiting around to die of thirst and leaping to a quicker death? Probably, or else this would have been a much shorter story.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So happy it's out!

  • By Joe W on 01-02-19

One of Bevan's Finest Works

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-31-19

You know, some authors peter out early and can't sustain the same quality of writing three or four books in. But, Bevan delivers another classic, filled with laughs, action, romance, and all the shit you can handle. I was worried about tracking the three separate storylines, but all of them were easy to follow and were equally interesting. My personal favorite was the Chaz/Cooper story, as their dynamic made me crack up out loud on several occasions. However, the way Stacy and Julian's restaurant encounter was written was very well done. It added a "whodunit" (or "who has it") aspect that I hadn't expected, and it was really fun to follow along. And, of course, the ending is pretty awesome as well. Sleep also turns in another awesome performance. Well done!

  • The Singularity Trap

  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 11 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17,336
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16,219
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,185

When Ivan Pritchard signs on as a newbie aboard the Mad Astra, it's his final, desperate stab at giving his wife and children the life they deserve. He can survive the hazing of his crewmates, and how many times, really, can near-zero g make you vomit? But there's another challenge looming out there, in the farthest reaches of human exploration, that will test every man, woman and AI on the ship - and will force Ivan to confront the very essence of what makes him human.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent.

  • By Amy Snider on 06-13-18

Not Good

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-02-18

This book has a few interesting ideas, a healthy sense of humor and a couple likable characters... But the story is slow as molasses and focuses on things the reader doesn't care about. :(

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Out of Spite, Out of Mind

  • Magic 2.0, Book 5
  • By: Scott Meyer
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,862
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5,552
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,541

When you discover the world is a computer program, and you figure out that by altering the code you can time travel and perform acts that seem like magic, what can possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything. Just ask Brit, who has jumped around in time with such abandon that she has to coexist with multiple versions of herself. Now, Brit the Elder finds that her memories don't match Brit the Younger's.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • A Philip to Remember / A Britt To Forget

  • By harbinger on 07-11-18

A Philip to Remember / A Britt To Forget

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-18

**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!**

I adore the Magic 2.0 series - I fell in love with the world, the characters and their adventures through medieval England, Atlantis, and the rest. Luke Daniels is an absolute wizard in bringing these characters to life, and I applaud Scott Meyers for never resting on his laurels, and taking chances with books 3 (fun!), 4 (Honor fail) and 5.

With Out of Spite, Out of Mind, the Phillip//Britt pairing is the main event, representing fatalism vs. free will. And that's interesting! Where it quickly falls apart is 1) how condescending (at best) and spiteful (hence the title???) Britt becomes and 2) how idiotic she behaves. It's the second part that I take issue with Meyer, because Britt was a pretty awesome character until recently.

So, to recap: Britt is two people; younger Britt resents older Britt; elder Britt notices a glitch caused by the two co-existing; elder Britt enlists Phillip to help her solve the problem and keep it a secret from Phillip, lest they destroy everyone/everything; younger Britt finds out and accuses Phillip of cheating on him; not-so-young Britt "saves the day" by fixing elder Britt, but not before encoding fake memories of Phillip cheating on her, thereby preserving the time loop and fulfilling her (elder Britt's) destiny of not being with Phillip.

To my first point, the characters in the book show little to no sympathy toward Phillip, with the main character Martin being unhelpful at best. Britt absolutely brutalizes Phillip, accusing him of cheating (with herself???) and then implanting her future self with false memories to ensure this becomes elder Britt's reality. How horrific. How sadistic.

But the fact that Phillip is posterized by Britt is a quibble compared to point numero dos - Britt's logic is completely faulty. If she allows herself to love Phillip, believing in HIS idea that free will exists (that each person can make decisions independently), and that determinism is false, she completely screws the pooch by essentially acting toward self-sabotage and preserving the timeline (i.e., free will doesn't exist, so I'm just going to do what I was going to do anyway).

Do you see the problem there? The Brit I know is way, way smarter than that. She is essentially acting OUT OF CHARACTER to push this plot forward. Phillip is not collaborating with elder Brit to save elder Brit - he is, at the end of the day, trying desperately to save younger Brit. Younger Brit somehow interprets this to be tantamount to cheating, and then acts to ensure the miserable outcome that is this book, which doesn't really prove her point (that what will be will be) since she ultimately decided the resolution of elder Brit's fate. And decides to cover her tracks by erasing the truth and replacing it with a falsehood about Phillip's infidelity...uhhh, good job Brit!

I can see where this is all going, but it just pains me when characters act of our character in order for the plot to work in certain ways. Gwen is no charmer, either, and I'm puzzled at how little chemistry both couples have with one another. Mr. Meyer - most of us are ride-or-die fans, and we're too invested to give up on these characters. I'm certain that Phillip and to a lesser extent Martin will get their comeuppance (for essentially being good, normal guys), but the fact that I'm expecting this comeuppance against the loves of their lives is really weird, mean-spirited, bizarre, out of character, etc.

Thank you for taking some chances, and taking us to some unexplored territory, but please hide the puppet strings a bit better when having the characters do what they need to do in service of the entire story. Characters by their nature are in service to the story, but maybe the story should be in service to them, as well (ooh! story/determinism vs. character/free will!)

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Dungeon Born

  • Divine Dungeon Series, Book 1
  • By: Dakota Krout
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,576
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,545

For eons, conquering dungeons has been the most efficient way to become a strong adventurer. Although not everything is as straightforward as it seems. Several questions have always plagued the minds of those who enter these mythical places of power: why are there so many monsters? Where do the amazing weaponry and heavy gold coins come from? Why does the very air fill with life-giving energies? Cal has all of the answers to these age-old questions, for a very simple reason. He is a Dungeon Heart.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Gem in the RPG/Fantasy Genre

  • By SirMehr on 04-01-17

Dungeon Dive Gone Wrong

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-18-17

Dungeon Born is a book I wanted badly to like. It promised an unconventional story told from the perspective of a dungeon - how cool - and had it followed through on this premise, I would have hung on every word.

Unfortunately, it let me down on multiple levels (pun intended). The first four chapters were an absolute slog, a "tutorial" of sorts that instruct the reader on the rules of dungeon building. I understand that this is probably a calculated risk that the author takes, but it still could have answered the who, what, where of the story, instead of just the how. What it does do is clue the reader into the fact that Dungeon Born takes place in a game world, where visions, hopes and dreams matter less than rank, loot and gold. Cal, the dungeon-main character, is thinly painted, and I still don't understand his motivations or his backstory (although I guess it has to do with the necromancer in the epilogue).

Despite the book's rocky start, I was looking forward to following Cal and his sidekick Dani as the focus of the book. The introduction of Dale spoils that. Dale and his friends are the first to enter the dungeon, and we have Dale murder his obnoxious jerk of a party member before he exits, leaving him as the sole survivor and beneficiary of the knowledge of the dungeon.

Dale then goes on to buy the land the dungeon sits on, and wheel and deal his way to greater fortunes and rank. He had all the makings of a good antagonist, a villain that Cal will eventually swallow up, except that he isn't. We come to learn that he, too, is a protagonist, which is odd considering the initial premise of the book (a fantasy tale told from the perspective of a dungeon).

Having Dale as the de facto protagonist wouldn't be so bad if the world he inhabited weren't completely borrowed from World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings. It has both dark elves and high elves. It uses the concept of video game guilds, which is different than what a guild would usually mean in a true fantasy world. It has barbarians modeled after Conan, even though they seem out of place. Dungeon Born promises an unconventional story, and then baits and switches it with the most conventional story of all. It's as if we were sitting down to read Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead, only to be fooled into reading about Romeo and Juliet instead.

I'm glad there are people that like this book, even if I am not one of them. There were certainly moments I enjoyed (for example, having people automatically removed from the mountain by simply saying that weren't welcome made for a good visual). The battles were well-written and easy-to-follow. The final boss and ending seemed inspired. But having Cal and Dani take a backseat to a guy I personally had a hard time rooting for - a murderer whose greatest instincts are those of a businessman - ultimately killed the story for me.

27 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • A Quiet Life in the Country

  • A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 1
  • By: T E Kinsey
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,812
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,171
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,162

Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they've just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life. But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There's a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation...

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A nice cozy read!

  • By BikeVON on 11-30-16

Fun Mystery Marred by an Unbelievably Clairvoyant Protagonist

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-11-17

If you like detective stories, and you are willing to take a gamble on a new book, you could do far worse than checking out a Quiet Life in the Country. For those of you who have read the book, please read on.

A Quiet Life in the Country recaps the tale of one lady of leisure, the moonlighting detective Emily Hardcastle, and her maid, the aptly named Armstrong. The two characters have moved to the countryside, and soon find themselves wrapped up in not one, but two murder mysteries. The two characters use their adductive reasoning, powers of persuasion, and some good old-fashioned violence to solve the cases. The book's strong suit is the dialogue between the book's various characters, which captures much of the charm of post Victorian England.

However, there are two problems with the story that I ultimately could not overlook. The first is just how incongruous Hardcastle's ideas are in relation to the rest of the world characters. Yes, she is intelligent, whimsical, and well-traveled, just like the famous detective from Baker Street she is clearly modeled after. But, with her knowledge of modern investigative best practices, such as the use of evidence boards, fingerprinting, and statistics, it's all a bit unbelievable. All three practices don't really lead her to the answer, so why even include them in the story? That, coupled with her bemusement with how the rest of the 1900's era Brits react to her independence and feminist character, make her character feel strangely out of place. I have to tell myself that Emily Hardcastle is in fact a time traveler from 2017 for how she behaves in the story to make any sense. I was half expecting her to champion Big Data to Sutherland and photograph crime scenes with an iPhone with how breezily modern she was throughout the story.

Not to pile it on, (I promise I enjoyed the story) but I also would highly suggest that the author drop all of the references to the characters' previous adventures in future entries to the series. They are all throw away lines, but they are generally more interesting than what is currently happening in the story. If you're going to tell us about Hardcastle's adventures in China, then why aren't you telling us that story? Why would you tell us about the time that Armstrong killed a man, and then not tell us what happened? I believe it was a way to add some flair to the characters, but it was a bit too on the nose for me. It's one thing to want to tell the reader that your characters are brave or clever. It is another thing to just have the characters talk about how grave or clever they are, but not really demonstrate it.

All in all, it was an enjoyable tale. My favorite character was Armstrong, and her relationship with Hardcastle was one of the strengths of the story. I just wish that Hardcastle was written to be a leading thinker, a remarkable progressive woman fighting the status quo. Instead, she is clearly a stand-in for someone from our era, who laughs at the backward and stodgy attitudes of the characters who inhabit her world. In the process, she becomes an enigma to both them and us readers alike.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Fight and Flight

  • Magic 2.0, Book 4
  • By: Scott Meyer
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9,253
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8,718
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,696

Martin and his friends discovered that their world is computer generated and that by altering the code they could alter reality. They traveled back in time to Medieval England to live as wizards. Almost everything they've done since then has, in one way or another, blown up in their faces. So of course they decide to make dragons. It does not go well.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Major stumble in a great series

  • By Lily on 05-11-17

Honor (the Character) Kinda Sucks

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-14-17

I really enjoy the series. But Honor never got the comeuppance she deserved here. Shrug.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful