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Blythe

Alberta (formerly California)
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  • 83
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  • The Thief's Daughter

  • The Kingfountain Series, Book 2
  • By: Jeff Wheeler
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,960
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,623
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,619

Owen Kiskaddon first came to the court of the formidable King Severn as a prisoner, winning favor with the stormy monarch by masquerading as a boy truly blessed by the Fountain. Nine years hence, the once-fearful Owen has grown into a confident young man, mentored in battle and politics by Duke Horwath and deeply in love with his childhood friend, the duke's granddaughter. But the blissful future Owen and Elysabeth Mortimer anticipate seems doomed by the king's machinations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Second & possibly best in the Kingfountain trilogy

  • By Blythe on 06-12-17

Second & possibly best in the Kingfountain trilogy

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

Second book in the Kingsfountain trilogy, and unlike the middle book of some trilogies, this is NOT a weaker story. In fact, I'd say it improves on the first. The main character Owen, who was 8-9 in the first book, is now 17-18 and makes a more nuanced narrator who plays a more active role in making things happen. He's come into his power and responsibility as a Duke and fountain-blessed, and is now in a position of trust to the troubled King Severn. The king's mistrust and bitterness are growing by the year, causing him to constantly test the loyalty of those who serve him, and Owen and Evie are no exception. Throughout the book the king demands more and more from them both, as a pretender arises claiming to be the son of the king's older brother and rightful heir to the crown of Ceredigion. As other rulers back the pretender and the king is forced to defend himself on multiple fronts, Owen's and Evie's loyalty is tested to the breaking point.

I picked this up on audiobook immediately after finishing the first book and ended up listening to it for the entire day instead of all the other things I should have been doing instead. The politics and history of Ceredigion are detailed and well thought out; the mysterious magic system of the fountain plays a larger part but is still fairly mysterious; and the characters are nuanced and have many layers and changing loyalties rather than being simply one thing or the other. Even minor characters like Evie's maid/chaperone get to have personality and plot, and the author makes you understand the perspectives of both the king and the pretender. It's often hard to tell who will turn out to be an enemy or an ally, and I forsee more twists still to come in the third book of the trilogy.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing

  • By: Madeleine Thien
  • Narrated by: Angela Lin
  • Length: 20 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 309
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 282
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 281

Madeleine Thien's new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition, even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations - those who lived through Mao's Cultural Revolution in the mid-20th century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Devastating and complex

  • By Amazon Customer on 02-13-17

A sweeping story of China across generations

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

A sweeping epic that tells the story of two families from 1950s China to present day Canada. The perspective jumps around between many different members of the families, though two of the main characters are Marie and Ai-Ming, whose fathers' friendship connect the two families. Through the experiences of the families and through a fictional story that becomes closely woven into the family's self-identity, the reader gains an understanding of what life was like in China under Chairman Mao and the communist party, culminating in a first-person view of the student massacre in Tiananmen Square in the 90s.

The historical details appear to be accurate and well researched, and the characters are generally interesting although I didn't find any of them truly grabbed me on a personal level. I found this slow reading at times, and the frequent jumps of perspective and timeline got confusing and a bit annoying in places; really didn't feel as if it was necessary to jump around quite so much. I also found myself getting a little impatient with all the back-and-forth of the story, since you can tell from fairly early in that the book is going to culminate in Tiananmen Square, and keeps hinting at it, but takes ages and many detours to get there.

I'm sure this is a book that reveals more and more, and is more deeply appreciated, on subsequent rereadings. It deserves 4 stars on that merit. However, based on my personal enjoyment of it as pure entertainment value, 3 stars.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Elantris

  • Tenth Anniversary Special Edition
  • By: Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by: Jack Garrett
  • Length: 28 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,299
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,770
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,775

In 2005, Brandon Sanderson debuted with Elantris, an epic fantasy unlike any other then on the market. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Tor is reissuing Elantris in a special edition, a fresh chance to introduce it to the myriad listeners who have since become Sanderson fans.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • For the superfan or new listener

  • By Christopher on 01-28-16

Characters are Sanderson's weak point

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

This is a book that centers around one city and three main characters. To quote book blurbs:

- Elantris was beautiful, once. It was called the city of the gods: a place of power, radiance, and magic.
- Raoden, prince of Arelon, was loved by all, including the princess he'd never met.
- Hrathen, high priest of Fjordell, will convert the people of Arelon or kill them.
- Sarene, the princess of Teod, was a widow before she was ever married.

Back in the "good times", citizens of Arelon would wake to find themselves "converted" to Elantrians, near-immortal beings able to wield indescribably powerful magic. They would abandon their old lives and move to the city of Elantris to lead their new god-like lives there. But when the book starts, Elantris has fallen. Nobody knows how or why, but something went wrong and the once-beautiful city is now dull and ugly and covered in filth. Those who were once Elantrians are still undying but no longer in a good way; patchy-skinned, hairless, hideous creatures who cannot heal and therefore eventually go insane from an accumulation of their injuries over the years. Worse of all, Arelon citizens still "convert", but now that conversion condemns them to the same hideous undeath.

When Raoden, prince and heir of Arelon, awakes to find himself cursed by the Elantris transformation, his father covers this up by claiming the prince has died outright, while shipping Raoden off to Elantris and holding a closed casket funeral. Sarene, his betrothed, arrives just in time for the funeral, never having met her fiance in person, and discovered that due to the terms of the marriage treaty she is now considered to legally be his widow, and banned from remarrying or returning home as that would void the terms of the treaty. Stuck in Arelon and somewhat suspicious that the prince's death was suspicious, she starts investigating the court, and when she uncovers a plot by Hrathen and the priests of Fjordell to convert and annex Arelon, she throws all her frustrated energy into finding a way to undermine this.

Hrathen, meanwhile, is dealing with his own internal struggles and political problems within the priests he's supposed to be leading, as well as the defiance of Sharene and his genuine belief that he must convert Arelon in order to save their lives.

Raoden, cast into the slime-coated city of fallen Elantris, tries to understand what's happened to him, and then to Elantris as a whole, spending most of the book trying to puzzle out what the cause of the curse is and ways to help the poor Elantrians. For most of the book Raoden and Sarene are working toward similar goals but unaware that each other exist - Sarene because she believes Raoden is dead, and Raoden because he assumes Sarene would never have come, or would have gone home, on learning of his death.

Overall a very enjoyable book with a complex world system, interesting characters, and lots of plot twists. However, as with the Mistborn trilogy I do think characters are Sanderson's weakest point. Raoden seems to be a beloved golden child who can persuade almost anyone to do what he wants with "natural leadership" to a fairly ridiculous extent. Sarene appears to be perfect at practically everything but drawing, and for some reason spends half the book annoyingly and unbelievably complaining that she's never going to have a real wedding and no man would ever like her. Hrathen is more interesting in general but at the end does an abrupt change of mind that completely changes the plot and feels rather heavy-handed and unexplained. Overall the book was still very enjoyable, but in a few places you'll just want to grit your teeth and try to overlook the character flaws.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Godfather

  • By: Mario Puzo
  • Narrated by: Joe Mantegna
  • Length: 18 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 6,458
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5,968
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5,969

More than forty years ago, Mario Puzo wrote his iconic portrait of the Mafia underworld as told through the fictional first family of American crime, the Corleones. The leader, Vito Corleone, is the Godfather. He is a benevolent despot who stops at nothing to gain and hold power. His command post is a fortress on Long Island from which he presides over a vast underground empire that includes rackets, gambling, bookmaking, and unions. His influence runs through all levels of American society, from the cop on the beat to the nation''s mighty. Mario Puzo, a master storyteller, introduces us to unforgettable characters, and the elements of this world explode to life in this violent and impassioned chronicle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Huge fan of the movie, loved this audiobook!

  • By Dana on 10-04-13

Complex, nuanced, moving story

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

I'd never seen the movies, and this is not a genre that interests me, but I picked up the audiobook on audible recently. Wow, what an impressive, detailed, and complex story of a complicated family and culture adapting to America. The characters were nuanced, and the reader can sympathize with even the nastiest of them. The plot spans decades and a generation, and while the Corleone family is at the center, the reader sees them and their actions both from the inside and the outside, through the eyes of various different characters, to give a very complete and in-depth picture. Although as I said this isn't a genre that usually interests me much, this book was well worth reading and all the more so because I'd never seen the movies and had no pre-set expectations.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Bear and the Nightingale

  • A Novel
  • By: Katherine Arden
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Gati
  • Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,591
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,306
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,297

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year, and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind - she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was swept away

  • By Crystal Midkiff on 02-04-17

Charming setting, annoyingly stubborn characters

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

Coincidentally, the second book I've read lately that includes oupyr, the Russian version of a vampire. This is a fairy-tale-like fantasy story set in the home of Pyotr, a local lord. His wife Marina dies after bearing him Vasilisa, a final daughter who will be like her mother - possessed of "the sight", able to see the domovoi, those creatures of Russian folklore who help around the house and lands. As Vasilisa gets older, she gets to know all the domovoi and learns from them. But when her father remarries, his new wife Anna also has enough of the sight to see the domovoi, but has been raised as such a fundamental Christian that she believes they are evil demons and is terrified by them. When a priest who is exiled from Moscow comes to work in Pyotr's village, he decides a way to gain respect in the eyes of the villagers is by making them fear the domovoi. As the village turns away from the domovoi, they begin to starve and leave, leaving the villagers' homes unprotected from the true evil beings. Only Vasilisa sees the value of the domovoi and tries to save them, and protect the village.

That's a very simplistic summary of the book, mostly it's charming because it feels like reading a fairy tale and the Russian folklore spirits are so charming you wish they were real. I didn't rank it higher than "liked it" however because the stubborn blindness of the Christian characters (mainly the wife and the priest, but also all those who go along with them in contradiction to all their old beliefs and traditions) is just so infuriating that I found it a bit hard to swallow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • River of Stars

  • By: Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 20 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 439
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 406
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international best-selling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world - a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Masterpiece

  • By David H. Diamond on 07-25-13

My least favourite GGK book so far

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

I have to say this is the Guy Gavriel Kay book I've liked LEAST so far. It's still an interesting book, but it doesn't come anywhere close to his earlier sweeping epics like Tigana or the Lions of Al Rassan. Basically it reads like historical political fiction, and doesn't really have a plot per se; it's more just a recounting of the events in the kingdom of Kitai, centering around the outlaw and then soldier Ren Daiyan. If you can have a fictional biography, it's kind of that. It's still interesting, and is apparently based on early dynasties in China which may explain the strong historical feel. But it also seems to meander around a lot and the plot such as it is is very anticlimactic. If you love historical China and fiction based in those times then you'll probably enjoy this; but generally I'd recommend Kay's other works before this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Princess Diarist

  • By: Carrie Fisher
  • Narrated by: Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd
  • Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,376
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,962
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,918

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fireworks at Midnight

  • By Gretchen SLP on 11-25-16

Read by Fisher herself

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

Definitely worth getting this in audiobook form, as it's read by Carrie Fisher herself, but then prepare yourself for a few lumps in the throats as you listen and remember she's not with us any more. A remarkable memoir by a remarkable lady with a very down to earth view of the transience of fame, beauty, and time.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 126,312
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 116,870
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 116,319

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • I didn’t hate it

  • By MerBear1981 on 04-18-19

Fascinating and thought provoking

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

Fascinating biography of Trevor Noah, telling the remarkable stories of his childhood as a mixed race child in apartheid South Africa where he was unable to acknowledge either parent in public as his very existence was a crime. Through the fall of apartheid and the difficulties of extreme poverty and growing up with an abusive step-father, this biography is both an interesting history of South Africa and the riveting personal story of the now well-known comedian. Having the audio book read by Noah himself, definitely a bonus.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

  • Bobiverse, Book 1
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72,216
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 67,778
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67,642

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ignore the Publisher's Summary! This is Amazing!

  • By PW on 04-12-17

Fun, silly galactic romp

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

A fun, geeky sci fi adventure with some interesting theoretical science behind it. If you enjoyed books like Ready Player One, Year Zero, and Old Man's War, you'll probably love this one. Wealthy software magnate Bob signs up to have his brain cryofrozen on death in hopes of future resurrection -- but when he wakes up, he learns the US has dissolved and his brain is now property of a religeous state who has declared the deceased have no rights. Bob's intelligence has been uploaded to a self-replicating space probe with the mission to explore, multiply, and find colonizable worlds -- but he's not the only probe out there and the other countries are both trying to get theirs out first, and destroy Bob. The book follows Bob's mission and, without giving too much away, the plot takes several twists. My only complaint is that it got a little confusing switching back and forth between all the different copies of Bob, but overall it's well handled and all the Bobs are very entertaining. Not a book that left me with great life lessons or anything, but a fun read and I'll probably pick up the sequels at some point when I need some entertaining light reading.

  • All the Light We Cannot See

  • A Novel
  • By: Anthony Doerr
  • Narrated by: Zach Appelman
  • Length: 16 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47,174
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42,215
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42,221

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4.72 stars......one of the best

  • By j phillips on 08-08-17

Beautiful writing but ultimately unsatisfying IMO

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

Reviewed: 06-12-17

Any additional comments?

** spoiler alert - SPOILERS BELOW ** This is a beautifully written book. If you enjoy reading for the sheer pleasure of beautiful prose, you'll love this book. Doerr's descriptions are beautiful and poetic and thoughtful, especially as he describes the world from blind Marie-Laure's point of view.

Aside from the beautiful writing though, the actual story didn't fully grip me. I liked it, I just didn't love it. In addition, the constant shifting of time frame was just annoying. The book primarily follows two main characters, both children: Werner, a German boy who lives in an orphanage with his sister and is fascinated with electronics and engineering, and Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who lives with her locksmith father in Paris and later in the small town of Saint-Malo when they flee from the bombing to stay with her great-uncle. You could consider a third "character" to be the rare diamond called the Sea of Fire, which has been hidden in the museum where Marie-Laure's father works and which the Germans are trying to track down. There's a legend the stone is cursed so that only evil will befall the loved ones person who has it. Marie-Laure and her family are involved in trying to hide the stone and are brought into danger because of it.

Werner enters the Hitler Youth and soon is called into active service despite being too young, due to his talent with electronics. He's told to find a way to triangulate on radio signals being sent by the resistance so the radios (and their operators) can be destroyed. Although he himself doesn't do the killing, he travels around with a small team causing the deaths of hundreds of radio operators. Eventually his path crosses with Marie-Laure's because her great-uncle is helping the resistance send radio messages to allied forces. He ends up "saving her life three times," as she counts it. She gives him a small model house her father made that eventually allows Werner's sister to track down Marie-Laure long after the war ends so we get a partial closure on the story.

Anyway. Things I didn't like: the author makes EXCESSIVE use of jumping back and forth in time. One minute you're reading about Marie-Laure at the end of the war, the next before the war. One minute Werner is in Saint-Malo being bombed by allied forces, the next minute he's a child listening to a radio broadcast by Marie-Laure's grandfather that teaches him the basics of science. And on to several steps in between also. I don't mind some flash-forwards or flash-backs when it makes sense but I really can't see any reason so many were needed here and in such a confusing arrangement. Second thing I didn't like: there just seemed a lot left unresolved at the end, and a lot that could have been done with the story but wasn't. When Werner's sister and Marie-Laure do meet, they exchange almost no information and separate without either of them really learning much the other person knows. Marie-Laure's father's ultimate fate seems oddly unresolved and pointless. Werner's ultimate fate also seems oddly abrupt and pointless. And the diamond's ending is also vague. Perhaps the point here is that war and death are pointless, and that's a valid point to make in a book, but it doesn't seem to be made with conviction either, just kind of feels as if both their stories trail off vaguely without driving any point home. And the beautiful diamond that's supposedly cursed but which nobody can bear to let go once they see it -- surely the blind Marie-Laure is the obvious choice here to dispose of the cursed gem into the sea, since she can't see it to be dazzled by it. And she kind of tries, but it seems almost an afterthought, and then the details are never explained. Felt like something more could be made out of that part of the story.

In the end I found it somewhat interesting and beautiful prose, but I didn't really feel attached to any of the characters and the number of unanswered questions at the end didn't make for a satisfying ending. I can't remember having read a story about WWII and not shedding a single tear but this one was a first, there's just no emotion in there. The writing felt beautiful but impersonal.