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Daniel P.

Washington State
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The Bear and the Nightingale audiobook cover art

Slow buildup but excellent ending

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

Reviewed: 09-10-19

The Bear and the Nightingale served as a great start to the Winternight Trilogy. This is a medieval Russian fairytale like book that reminded me a bit of Spinning Silver. For most of the book there isn’t really too much on the mythological side, it’s more about establishing the climate of growing up in a cold Russian village.

The story has one of the slowest buildups I’ve ever read and to be honest if it wasn’t for the fantastic ending, I would have probably given this book only three stars. Arden pulled everything together in the last 50 pages of the book though which left me on the edge of my seat. Most of the book is just so much buildup but this is the first book in the series and perhaps in the next two books there will be more action.

The novel focuses on Vasya Petrovna and her family. It starts off just before she is born and goes through quite a bit of her life and growing up. I’m not quite sure of her age when the story ends but I believe it’s mid to late teens. We also get to see the story from the point of view of a few other characters such as Konstantin but this is brief and the story really focuses on Vasya.

Konstantin, a Christian Priest, was just one of the many side characters and although they weren’t the focus of the book they really added to the story. If I didn’t get to see some of their perspective in the buildup it would have been hard to get to the end of this book. Vasya’s family and their experiences with her also prove to be quite interesting. My real interest though was all the Slavic mythological spirits and creatures and I hope we get to see more of this part of the world in the next book.

Overall this was a good book with a slow buildup and a great ending. I wouldn’t be so forgiving of the slow start if this was a stand-alone book and not the first of a series but after that ending, I look forward to checking out the next book.

Kathleen Gati did an excellent job narrating. I think one of the hardest jobs for a narrator with foreign tales is to provide an accent to set the tone but still make it very clear and she did an excellent job on this.

Legion: Skin Deep audiobook cover art

Longer and Better than the first Novella

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

Reviewed: 08-31-19

Legion: Skin Deep, the second novella in the Legion series, was another excellent story by Brandon Sanderson. It’s really quite amazing the amount of genres he can write and provide an interesting take on. Like the first book, Skin Deep is another mystery that Stephen Leeds has to use the skills the multiple people he imagines to solve. This was a bit longer than the first book which made it more engaging and enjoyable. The first book was a little short but Skin Deep was the perfect length for the story Sanderson was trying to tell.

In Skin Deep we get a further look into the many characters Stephen Leeds imagines and there are quite a few. This really adds to the book as even though there is really only one main character we get to see a ton of different personalities. The characters are very unique as well. They are both male and female and different ages and races. Sanderson presents this unique take on these characters so well. They all have their own fake lives that Stephen is not always even aware of. Some of them have their own fake personalities and are crazy in their own right and a few of them even date each other. I was fascinated by how far Sanderson built out the concept for this book.

The mystery itself was also interesting as Stephen had to find a missing body. I don’t want to get to much into the mystery without spoiling it but why the body is important is another interesting concept that Sanderson presents. This concept could be a book in its own right even.

Overall another unique and great story told by Brandon Sanderson. I look forward to checking out the third novella to see how Stephen’s story ends. I heard this has been optioned for a TV show and I think this would be an excellent series.

Oliver Wyman continues to be a great narrator for these novellas and portrays the many characters of Stephen Leed’s mind very well.

Legion audiobook cover art

Entertaining but a bit short

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

Reviewed: 08-31-19

This was a pretty short novella by Brandon Sanderson but, like most of the stuff Sanderson writes, it was still pretty good. The premise is interesting in that Stephen Leeds doesn’t have multiple personalities per se; he sees and interacts with people that are just in his mind. It’s even to the point where if they are going somewhere together there needs to be seating for all of them. He is the main narrator of the book though and the “personalities” are side characters.

This is a mystery book at heart and I’m assuming the other novellas in the series will be the same. The interesting part is that Stephen’s “friends” have different expertise and can help him along the way. Some of these characters are clever, some are funny and some are good at combat. Each of these skills can benefit Stephen if called for.

I enjoyed the story as a whole but it was a bit short. I know there are too more books in the series and I look forward to checking them out as this was quality entertainment.

Oliver Wyman was a good narrator for this book. He was able to really portray the character of each of the multiple people in Stephen’s head which couldn’t have been an easy task. It looks like he narrates the rest of the series as well.

The End of All Things audiobook cover art

Not the stories I want in this Universe

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

Reviewed: 08-30-19

The End of All Things was better than book 5 but still somewhat underwhelming. This was another compilation of short stories but instead there were only 4 as opposed to the 13 or so of the last book. I did enjoy this more, but I still would have liked to see one continuous book. As I expected we still do not get any further details on what’s going on with John Perry and his family and instead follow other characters. The book was ok, but these just aren’t the stories I personally want in this universe.

Of the four stories that made up this book I really preferred the first two. The Life of the Mind and the character of Rafe Daquin was unique and probably my favorite story in the book. It was also interesting to see some of the politics of the conclave through the eyes of Hafte Sorvalh in the second book.

The second half of the book was just “meh” to me and I didn’t really care for the conclusion. The third novella and narrator were entirely forgettable to me. I think of all the stories this one had the least to do with the overall plot of the book. The fourth novella is narrated by Harry and I do really enjoy his character, but I wasn’t thrilled with this as a conclusion to the book.

Overall this was better than the last book but still not up to par with the earlier books in the series. I just want different stories in this universe. Give me more of John Perry and his family. Give me a story about Roanoke, the “werewolves” and what’s going on there. Give me something about the Consu and the Obin. If there are further books written in this series, I will have to see what they are about before I decide to read them or not.

I enjoyed the narration throughout the series. I liked how we got both the two previous narrators in the series for this book in Tavia Gilber and William Dufris. They both do an excellent job and made these books enjoyable.

The Human Division audiobook cover art

OK but not the stories or characters I was wanted

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

Reviewed: 08-29-19

The Human Division is probably my least favorite book in the series so far. It was ok but just not up to par with the other books in the series. Instead of one continuous story this is a compilation of a bunch of short stories. The book takes place after the events of books three and four but with none of the same characters. I was really looking forward to seeing how John, Jane and Zoe reacted to being back on earth and possibly what would happen if John meant up with his son but it doesn’t look like were going to get this story as from the sound of it book 6 is a follow-up to book 5.

Most of the stories follow Harry Wilson who you may remember as one of the “Old Farts” from book one. I actually enjoyed most of the stories with him and his “sidekick” Schmidt. They were entertaining and quite humorous. The other point of view characters were not that entertaining and I’d be hard pressed to remember their names even if asked. One of the stories was basically a communication that said a person’s name and then what they said back and forth. It was really bad and almost unbearable. Fortunately, one good thing this book does is mostly stick with different stories involving Harry.

The short stories do attempt to try to be somewhat cohesive and provide us with a buildup to an interesting ending. I did miss a lot of the characters and alien species such as the Obin and Consu from the last book. I know this book was written as an online serial but that’s just not my cup of tea unless they are chapters of one continuous story. It almost reminds me of the montage at the end of a lot of Scalzi books such as Redshirts where he goes over “what’s happening now scenarios”. I really enjoy a lot of his books and I’m not sure why he does this or if other people like it but it can make a good book just ok for me which is why I felt this book was only ok.

Overall this was an ok book in the series but not really telling the stories I want to see in this world. I’ll continue on with book 6 but if further books are written in the series I hope they return to some of the main characters.

William Dufris’s narration has been one of the best parts about this series. He does an excellent job.

Zoe's Tale audiobook cover art

My Favorite Book in the Series so Far

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

Reviewed: 08-27-19

Zoe’s Tale is my favorite book of the series so far. Usually I’m not a fan of the “same story different perspective” books but I really enjoyed this one. I actually preferred seeing the events of The Last Colony through Zoe’s eyes more than John’s. It really gave a different perspective to the story and in my opinion made it a lot more personal than just getting from point A to point B.

This book has quite a different tone than the other books in the series so far and I’ve even seen it described as being a young adult novel. That’s ok as I think Scalzi has done a pretty good job of changing the tone of the series for each book to show different views and perspectives of what’s going on. Certain deaths and events that happened in the Last Colony were almost an afterthought to the adults. They came off as “business as usual”, lets get on to the big events, and at some points I even found myself thinking “do these people even care about each other.” In Zoe’s Tale we got to see how impactful these events actually were to the individuals and even though I knew which characters were going to die seeing it through her eyes made me actually care.

Another aspect that was presented in this book was that we got to see more of the universe. Although The Lost Colony was a good book it was about the humans the setting up the colony but with Zoe’s Tale we get to see interaction with other alien races. I enjoyed Zoe’s interaction with Hickory and Dickory and the rest of the Obin race. We also got to see more of the “werewolf” like creatures and I’d like to see their interaction with the colony explored in a future book. General Gau was also present in this book and I’m really enjoying his character. He seems to be honorable but also a “my way or the highway” type of guy. Lastly Zoe had some interaction with the mysterious Consu we keep hearing about and we got some more insight into what they are all about.

Overall this was a great addition to the series. In fact maybe The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale would have been even better if they had been one book but I’m sure Scalzi knows better than me. I look forward to the next two books in the series.

Changing the narrator to Tavie Gilbert for Zoe’s Tale was an excellent choice. She really brought out the fact that we were seeing events from a teenage girl’s perspective.

The Last Colony audiobook cover art

Good addition to the series with a different tone

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

Reviewed: 08-26-19

The Last Colony was a good addition to the series. John Perry is once again the focus of this book along with Jane and Zoe from the last book. No longer soldiers John and Jane are now more like political leaders and this shows in the story. The focus on battle has shifted to more of running a new colony and dealing with the politics of doing so. Not that it’s bad but the premise of Elderly people being solders doesn’t seem like it’s really part of the story anymore.

This was a pretty enjoyable book with much less action than the previous two. I wasn’t really bothered by this as I like a break from battle scenes and seeing the intricacies that go on behind the politics of everything. I did find the setup of John’s family a little unbelievable. I’m not giving anything away since it’s even in the description of the book but I’m not sure that just because someone is a clone of your dead wife that you’d fall in love and marry them. It’s also a little odd that they would be allowed to raise such an important figure as Zoe. This is a work of fiction though and it’s easy to get past the family setup and enjoy the rest of the book.

I’m enjoying this series, but I wish the books were a little longer. Every time I get to the end of a book in this series is when I finally feel invested, but I guess that what gets you started on the next book. Scalzi left this book with an interesting ending and I look forward to seeing what happens next. It does sound like the next book in the series is the same story from Zoe’s point of view, so I’ll probably have to get through that before I see what happens next.

Overall a good addition to the series with quite a different tone than the first two books. It was nice to return to John’s character and I’ll definitely be finishing this series.

William Dufris continues to be a great narrator for the series. If you liked him for the first two books, it’s more of the same.

The Ghost Brigades audiobook cover art

OK filler book before book 3

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

Reviewed: 08-25-19

The Ghost Brigades was an ok follow up but not quite as good as the first book in the series. I’m not sure how the rest of the series is but John Perry wasn’t in this book, instead we follow Jared Dirac. The main character not being John Perry wasn’t a disappointment all in itself but the appeal of the series to me was the uniqueness of older people fighting in the military. Jared wasn’t ever really an old man and instead is a semi Ghost Brigade type of human that we encountered at the end of the first book.

The book was still fairly decent and it was somewhat interesting to see how the Ghost Brigades think and act. It was also nice to see Jane in this book. She was a side character but was the main crossover character from the first book. From the sounds of it the next book brings the focus back to John and as an in-between book to introduce or expand upon certain characters Ghost Brigades did an ok job.

I never really felt a connection to the character of Jared like I did John in the first book. I think this main have been part of him not being a “real” human and maybe that was the way he was supposed to come off. I thought the end of the book was done really well, but right when I’m finally getting invested the story ends.

Overall a decent book two but I really want to see more of John Perry. I’ll continue on with the series as the next book sounds like it brings the focus back to him.

William Dufris is a fantastic narrator and one of the best parts of listening to these books on audible.

Old Man's War audiobook cover art

Good Start to a Series

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

Reviewed: 08-23-19

Old Man’s war was quite enjoyable albeit a little short. The concept that Scalzi creates with this novel, like most of his novels, is unique. The idea of elderly people getting to become young and enlist in a space military is quite the concept. The book blends humor, character development and action sequences quite well. Since this is the first book of a series it does take a bit to get into as the first half of the book is an introduction to the main character, John Perry, and what is going on. I assume the following books will be easier to get into as we won’t need all these details.

John Perry is the main character, and this really is his book. There are side characters here and there which you do feel for but they come and go in various ways and aren’t much of an impact on the overall arc of the story. The first half of the book is an introduction to John, what his life was on earth and the enlistment process. We see how he becomes young and everything that it entails for an old person to be instantly 20 something again. Even though it was a lot of explanation I really enjoyed this part of the book. One small nitpick I had was that before they were young the older characters didn’t really come off to me as old. They seemed to act like teenagers even before the aging process. I’m not old (unless you ask my kids) but as far as my interactions with 75 year old’s go this didn’t seem to match up and took me out of the story a little.

The second half of the book has a different tone which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As “War” is in the title you’d expect there to be some sort of war and you’d be correct. If you like action and space battles that pretty much is what the second half of this book is, so you won’t be disappointed. The shift in tone was a bit abrupt but once the action started it was quite enjoyable. The end of this book and the character John meant up with wasn’t something I was expecting. I thought it was an excellent little twist and I look forward to see how it develops in the rest of the series.

Overall this was an enjoyable book and a good introduction to the start of a series. I really liked where it left off and I look forward to checking out the next book.

I thought William Dufris was an excellent narrator. I think when books are told in the first person of one character you really need a narrator that matches the tone of that person. The way Dufris narrated really made me believe the story was being told to me by John Perry.

The Priory of the Orange Tree audiobook cover art

Excellent stand alone novel

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

Reviewed: 08-22-19

The Priory of the Orange Tree was an excellent book. The last few books I have read felt a bit tedious and a chore to get into but this book kept me interested from start to finish. I really enjoyed the world that Samantha Shannon created with different cultures and regions. There are a lot of comments saying stuff like “what a feminist celebration this book is”, which is great, and no judgement either way, but I know comments like this turn some people off as they think the book could be about pushing some sort of politics and not about the story. Personally, all I care about is a good story and to these people I’d say give this book a chance, this is how an author does it right. This is a great story that happens to have a lot of strong female characters.

There are four main point of view characters, Ead, Tane, Loth and Dr. Niclays. For quite a bit of the book these characters are all in separate regions of the world with most of them not even knowing each other I enjoyed all of them but Ead is really the focus of the book which is great and maybe why she turned out to be my favorite character. What Shannon did excellent job of though was interlace the other characters point of views into the story at perfect times so you never reached a point where Ead’s part got stale. I really liked the range of characters as well and I particularly think the addition of the older Dr. Niclays gave the story something it wouldn’t have had with just an all younger cast.

To me the story seemed more political than adventure and almost Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) like. There were quests and adventures thrown in as well but the main plot seemed to involve a lot of courtly scenarios. I did really like the buildup to the end sequence and that there were both good and bad dragons and to me this seemed almost to harken back to some of the scenarios involving dragons from classic Dragonlance.

Overall this was a fantastic book that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to end. I know this is a stand-alone but I feel like there could be a lot more stories to tell in this world and if there is a sequel it’ll be on my read as soon as it comes out list.

It seems like a lot of listeners had problems with Liyah Summers narration and I’m not sure why. I thought she did an excellent job and made each character really stand out.