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Lora S.

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  • Prism Cloud

  • Harbinger, Book 4
  • By: Jeff Wheeler
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 436
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 396
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 396

When the emperor is assassinated, Sera Fitzempress is the noble most eligible to inherit the empire. Her upcoming marriage to the prince would cement her position. And as a champion for peace, Sera is the only promise of hope for staving off war between the worlds of Kingfountain and Muirwood. But standing between her and her enemies is just one devastating secret. Sera’s best friend, Cettie, a girl born of a lower class, has made a shattering discovery: her entire existence has been a lie. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • leaves you waiting in next book

  • By Amazon Customer on 03-07-19

Things are dire indeed

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

Reviewed: 03-14-19

In this fourth installment of the Harbinger Series, Sera really comes into her own. But the price is high. Sera marries Prince Trevon, but General Montpensier and his Espion use the occasion to kill Prime Minister Fitzroy and take over Kingfountain.

Sera barely manages to get herself, her maid, Becka, and Adam Creigh out of Kingfountain alive, and arrives back in Lockhaven only to find that her father is dead and, against all expectations, has had her declared his heir. But the chaos in Kingfountain means the war is back on worse than ever. Sera doesn’t even know whether her new husband is dead or alive.

The most impressive scene in the book is when Sera flies the floating portion of Lockhaven to the nearest Mirrorgate and knocks it down, creating a new gate at airship level in its place.

Meanwhile, things haven’t gone well for Cettie. The Fear Liath has been discovered in the city, and she and Rand Patchett have been asked to help the authorities destroy it. It seems to have located itself at Miss Charlotte’s old house, bringing back all of Cettie’s old fears, and they fail miserably in the attempt to destroy it. Cettie’s friend Joses and several of the officers with them are killed in the attempt.

Shortly afterward, Lady Corrine comes to Fog Willows and confesses to being Cettie’s mother. She has some cracked up story about having been blocked from remembering until just then, and about Cettie’s father being the emperor, all of which is fake and dropped as soon as it has served Lady Corinne’s purpose. She convinces Cettie to go with her to Kingfountain, partly because Cettie has seen a vision of Fitzroy’s death and wants to warn him. But when they cross the Mirrorgate, despite not having permission to go, Cettie winds up not in the capital, but at a poisoner school where she is put into training to become a haetera. Suddenly the Mysteries seem to desert her, and she loses her faith.

Things look dire indeed. Can’t wait for the final book of the series to find out where this goes.

I had this book on Kindle Unlimited, and had access to both the Kindle and Audible versions of the book - always a help in getting it read quickly. The only problem is that then it's over too fast.

  • War Storm

  • Red Queen Series, Book 4
  • By: Victoria Aveyard
  • Narrated by: Amanda Dolan, Erin Spencer, Saskia Maarleveld, and others
  • Length: 22 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,122
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,928
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,924

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal's betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart - and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her - Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all... starting with the crown on Maven's head. But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal's powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • With a sneer

  • By SandraDee on 07-16-18

Good ending despite the many moving parts

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

Reviewed: 03-09-19

The book comes to a satisfying conclusion. This is despite all the many moving parts to the story.

There are at least three major battles in this book. The Red Guard and their allies make a visit to Montfort to see how the idea of a country without a king works. Mare has another visit with her family and Premier Davidson shows off to Evangeline how she might live the kind of life she wants with the person she loves rather than being always the pawn in a power-play marriage. While they are in Montfort, they are subjected to a raid inspired by Maven’s Queen, Iris Cygnet, designed to free the children of Prince Bracken and win him back into an alliance with Maven.

Iris herself does almost appear to be an evil villain type as she and her mother plan to use their alliance with Maven to ultimately take over Norta. The Lakelands remain firmly committed to the idea of the inferiority of Reds. But you sort of have to respect their determination to revenge the death of their late King and Iris’ healthy fear of Maven. They don’t plan on keeping him around indefinitely even before Cal’s uncle and grandmother offer Iris a deal she can’t refuse.

I find it interesting that, although Cal allows himself to be crowned King after winning the second battle, he later decides that this is not what he wants for himself after all. It would be interesting to see where Norta goes after the end of the story.

Loved the narration for the most part, even the ever-increasing number of narrators. But I have to say that although Vikas Adam is excellent in other performances, I thought he was a little rougher than what I would have expected as Cal.

  • The Iron Maiden

  • By: Resa Nelson
  • Narrated by: Laura Jennings
  • Length: 8 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Astrid is reluctant to travel the winter route beyond the Northlands, even though it's her duty. She'd rather stay home in her village, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Ignoring the bonds of tradition, she decides to spend the cold winter months in the warmth of her blacksmithing shop. Why should she leave the comfort of her cottage to serve and protect foreigners who might raid and harm her native Northlands?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • It's about deciding who you are

  • By Lora S. on 03-01-19

It's about deciding who you are

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

Reviewed: 03-01-19

This story is about deciding who you are.

This is the second book of the Dragonslayer Series. There is a lot of backstory in the first book, so it pays to have read it first. This is definitely a different kind of adventure.

Astrid was raised by the blacksmith who bought her as a child to be a blacksmith herself. She made beautiful swords, of which the best was the dragonslayer’s sword, Starlight, that she made for her best friend and lover, DiStephan. After her adventures in The Dragonslayer’s Sword, Astrid has become the dragonslayer for her hometown of Guell in DiStephan’s place. But she wants to spend winter in Guell practicing her blacksmithing rather than following the lizards that everyone except dragonslayers calls dragons when they go south for the winter.

Unfortunately, somebody steals Starlight. Astrid assumes it is one of the traveling merchants who was complaining about her not accompanying him on the trip south, and rushes off to find him and get her sword back. But when she catches up to him, she finds him dead and the sword gone again.

There follows a whole round of new adventures, including meeting up with a weapons merchant who happens to have Starlight on him, but he won’t give it back, claiming he made a fair trade for it. Shortly afterward, they witness an altercation between another merchant and his wife. The merchant starts to beat his wife, and Vinchi, the weapons merchant, rushes in, takes her, and loads her and Astrid onto his ship and sails off. The woman, Margreet, is angry about being stolen from her husband, but in their travels, they come to her home village where everyone but her has been massacred and their temple defiled. Astrid and Vinchi help her prepare a ceremony to burn the bones of the dead and release them to their journey to the afterlife. After that, she is much easier to get along with. In this place too is the Dragon Well that Astrid has been urged to find to heal her past injuries. But the dragon well is dry.

Meanwhile, Margreet’s husband has fallen in with the priests of the new religion that has been sweeping the Southlands.
This religion is so blatantly evil that even devil worship looks benign in comparison. These people believe that women are so inherently inferior to men that they have to pardon their god for creating such inferior beings! The priests travel around sponging off of the local farmers and sleeping with their wives when they are out working.

Things come to a climax when they encounter Margreet’s husband at the port when they are about to set sail for Guell in the spring. Astrid has decided that they will all be safer there. But first the woman’s husband challenges her to a fight for her freedom – and according to the rules of the place where they are, she has to fight him herself.

I had this book on Kindle Unlimited and also listened to part of the story on the accompanying audiobook. The Audible narration was very good.

  • When We Were Orphans

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 570
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 412
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 409

Christopher Banks, an English boy born in early-20th-century Shanghai, is orphaned at age nine when both his mother and father disappear under suspicious circumstances. He grows up to become a renowned detective, and more than 20 years later, returns to Shanghai to solve the mystery of the disappearances.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Just short of 5 stars

  • By Everett Leiter on 05-26-06

Dream-like and somewhat surreal

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

Reviewed: 02-21-19

A dream-like and somewhat surreal narrative of an English orphan’s search for his parents and his misty almost-romance with a strange girl he met in London and later encountered again in Shanghai.

This is the story of Christopher Banks, born the son of English parents in early twentieth-century Shanghai. Both his parents disappeared within a few weeks of each other when he was nine, but twenty years later he remains convinced that they are still alive.

At the time of his parents’ disappearance, young Christopher was very impressed with the Chinese detective who was supposed to be working on the case and was convinced that this man would find them in short order. He and his best friend at the time, a Japanese boy living in the same neighborhood in the international quarter, spent a lot of their time playing detective at that point.

After being sent back to England, Christopher was determined to become a detective himself, a goal he actually achieved. After about twenty years in this profession, he decides to return to Shanghai to finally solve the mystery of his parents’ supposed kidnapping.

We don’t learn a lot about Christopher’s methods of detecting. He does interview a few people there in Shanghai, mostly government officials who he feels are obstructing the investigation. There is a sort of surreal period when all the British and international set seems to be convinced that he will actually retrieve his parents alive and insist on congratulating him and honoring him with dinners etc. before he has even done anything.

Meanwhile, it is 1938, and the Japanese are invading the city, but the members of the international community seem to be convinced that this has very little to do with them.

The most useful tool in Christopher’s investigation seems to be his own memory, now rather hazy, of what happened at the time. An interview with the Chinese detective who he had admired so much as a boy ultimately leads him on a dangerous journey through one of the war zones. This journey has pretty much no positive results. One of the officials who had previously been obstructing his investigation finally puts him in touch with the person who can actually tell him what happened. It is neither the happy ending he seems to have expected nor quite as bad as it might have been.

  • The Decoy Princess

  • Princess, Book 1
  • By: Dawn Cook (as Kim Harrison)
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 264
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 242
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 240

The Princess Contessa of Constenopolie has just learned of her true identity - that of an orphan adopted and raised as a decoy to protect the real princess. But that doesn't make Contessa less of a royal target.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Misleading cover - excellent story!

  • By Lela on 03-13-15

I knew I would like this book!

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

Reviewed: 02-21-19

This is a highly original story with a different take on the usual princess thing. Great writing, and tight plotting.

Tess has been raised as the princess of Constenopolie. Although she has suffered from a prophecy that predicts possible dire consequences for the wrong person who might try to marry her (causing frequent attempts on her life for some reason), she has had a fairly easy and happy life so far. She has been primarily guarded and trained by the kingdom’s chancellor, Cavinlo. She thinks her primary skill is shopping, but Cavinlo has taught her many other things too.

There has been a project to have her married going on. When her future intended shows up at her parents’ palace months early, Tess tries to get in to have a look at him even though she is not supposed to. When she is discovered, it sets in motion a bad set of events during which her parents first tell her she is not, in fact, their daughter the princess and then Prince Garrett kills them and attempts to imprison her to marry her right away. This is all to fulfill some sort of scheme of his own to seize power and do it early. He rapidly reveals himself to be a psycho, and Tess needs to get out fast.

The rest of the story is of Tess’s adventures as she seeks to reunite with Cavinlo, who has been sent to retrieve the real princess, and then return to reclaim the palace and get rid of the horrible Prince Garrett.

I agree that I didn’t think too much about the narrator while I was listening to the book, so she must have done a good job.

  • Histories

  • By: Herodotus
  • Narrated by: David Timson
  • Length: 27 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 342
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 321
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 319

In this, the first prose history in European civilization, Herodotus describes the growth of the Persian Empire with force, authority, and style. Perhaps most famously, the book tells the heroic tale of the Greeks' resistance to the vast invading force assembled by Xerxes, king of Persia. Here are not only the great battles - Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis - but also penetrating human insight and a powerful sense of epic destiny at work.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very Entertaining

  • By John on 11-06-16

Certainly covers a lot of ground

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

Reviewed: 02-07-19

This book certainly covers a lot of ground, attempting to give histories of Egypt, Persia, the Ionians, the Scythians, and the Greeks, as well as touching on just about every other culture in the eastern end of the Mediterranean, eastern Africa, or western Asia. The one downside to this as an audiobook is that there is no way to have an accompanying map of the world at the time. (In fact, I would really like to have a map or set of maps that compares the ancient world to the modern world to see what they are talking about when they repeatedly refer to rivers or countries or people who just aren’t there anymore, at least not by the same names).

Much of this history is a recitation of battles and larger military campaigns. But Herodotus apparently likes clever solutions to problems, and he gives any number of examples of various people, mostly rulers, who got revenge on their enemies in clever, unusual, or particularly grisly ways. He also makes an effort to give some idea of the nature and customs of some of the people he talks about, particularly the Scythians and the other tribes who lived at ever greater distances beyond them.

Apparently, Herodotus collected his histories at least in part by traveling to the various lands he was writing about and talking to the people there. This allows him to occasionally give more than one version of the story if the people of the different countries tell it differently. He also occasionally encounters versions of various historical events that he doesn’t think are very credible, and he doesn’t hesitate to say so when this is the case. Sometimes he will speculate on what a more likely scenario might be.

Tthe people of the entire ancient world seem to have made a regular practice of consulting the various oracles before they did just about anything, especially before starting a war. Herodotus cites as proof of many of his stories the various valuable objects of art that were donated to the oracles as offerings in gratitude for predictions of victory in these undertakings and were still to be seen there in his day. He also tells how some people misconstrued the prophecies they received and failed badly as a result. There seem to have even been one or two cases of oracles being bribed to give prophecies favoring one side or the other in some conflict, and one of them even lost their position because of it.

The narrator was very good – clear and easy to understand. While he didn’t sound like a Greek – he was pretty obviously British – he did have just the right tone for a serious but not too stuffy historian.

  • Iron Garland

  • Harbinger, Book 3
  • By: Jeff Wheeler
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,343
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,188
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,181

For three years, Sera Fitzempress has been a pawn in a gilded prison. Disgraced and exiled from society, she has been isolated from the downtrodden she’s determined to liberate. Cettie Pratt has grown into an independent young woman, although she continues to be tested by the high society of the clouds. Advancing in the magic of the Mysteries, Cettie is also a useful tool of defense during turbulent times. The fog of war is drawing in, and with it comes a startling new enemy who may unravel secrets that both women would prefer stay hidden. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a fantastic web!!!!

  • By Amazon Customer on 11-15-18

Dazzling world of the Harbinger Series

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

Reviewed: 01-18-19

I am continually amazed at the dazzling world Jeff Wheeler has created for this Harbinger series. The magic is so dazzling, the plots so intricate, the villains so, um, villainous. And the characters manage to navigate this improbable world so believably.

In this book, we begin to get an inkling of just exactly how dangerously evil, and how powerful, Lady Corinne is. Before we thought she was just sort of calculatingly cruel in a social manner – not unlike some real people – but with probably a hidden agenda regarding whose social downfall she caused. Now her machinations are revealed to be much more overt, and much deeper.

But, curiously, Lady Corinne has taken a young brother and sister pair – Rand and Joanna Patchett – under her protection and is leasing the Hardings’ former manor of Gimmerton Sough to them. But they appear to be intelligent and independent of the dictates of Lady Corinne. Rand is supposed to be suffering from war injuries and is unable to return to battle. He also appears to suffer from an incredible temper. But he is nice to Cettie and is of great help when Stephen having allowed Mr. Savage back into the operations of the Dulcoath mines, he nearly sabotaged the entire operation, including once again loosing the monster trapped in the grotto. When Cettie, Stephen, and Rand go to confront the monster, they find instead the kishion who attacked Cettie and Anna at Muirwood. Cettie fires on him, and Rand supposedly finishes him off.

Meanwhile, Sera is somewhat rehabilitated. At least enough for the Privy Council to send her to Kingfountain to negotiate an armistice. She connects well with the young Prince, whom she met before when he had visited her country, but his parents are less impressed. However, despite not agreeing to marry the Prince, she manages to negotiate a two-year truce between the two countries.

But all is not over yet. When Cettie and Rand go to find the Cruciger Orb to look for the Fear Liath, it turns out to be missing. Who can have taken it? And who are the Patchetts, really, that they can apparently defy Lady Corrinne’s social dictates even while renting a manor from her?

I had this book from Kindle Unlimited, and therefore had access to both the Kindle edition and the Audible Audio edition. Having both is a great advantage when you really really really want to find out what happens next.

  • Just One Damned Thing After Another

  • The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1
  • By: Jodi Taylor
  • Narrated by: Zara Ramm
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,640
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,125
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,120

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Action Adventure Time Travel Novel w/ Good Reader

  • By Sires on 04-13-14

This was just so fun!

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

Miss Maxwell – Max – was a misfit everywhere she went until a teacher suggested she study history. A few years later, the same teacher suggested she interview for a position at St. Mary’s, an institute for studying history using time travel to be on the spot. The glimpses she gets of the workings of the institute have her sold on the position before she ever gets to the interview, and she is accepted and signs up on the spot, everybody certain she will fit right in.

The time-traveling historians of St. Mary’s manage to have something go wrong with almost everything they get involved in. Yet they manage to pull off their assignments nearly every time (although not always entirely without casualties). This is not always entirely their fault, however, as they learn that there are people from their future that are trying to have St. Mary’s shut down.

Max is responsible for thwarting them at several points in history, but they just seem to keep coming back. Hopefully the historians of St. Mary’s will keep traveling to the past for a long time into our future.

The narrator is exactly right for this story.

  • King's Cage

  • By: Victoria Aveyard
  • Narrated by: Amanda Dolan, Adenrele Ojo, Erin Spencer
  • Length: 17 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,604
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,310
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,298

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country - and his prisoner. As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not as good as the first 2

  • By D. Witherspoon on 02-20-17

Starts slow, but then everything changes

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

Ok, the first part of this book, where Mare was Maven’s prisoner, did sort of feel like I was being tortured along with her, and I did wonder if it would ever end. But then Maven started trying to change everything up, trying to get his approval ratings up, as it were. He reversed the decision about the young red soldiers. He issued a call for the NewBloods to join him. He set out to end the war with the Lakelands.

He got trapped into marrying the daughter of the King of the Lakelands – a very interesting character, by the way. I can’t decide if she is a good guy or an archvillain. Anyway, that move meant he wasn’t able to marry Evangeline. And that changed everything. When the Red Guard attacks Maven’s wedding, it’s Evangeline who sets Mare free of her silent stone manacles and kills off her Arven guards.

Meanwhile, when Mare rejoins the Red Guard, she finds they have made some unexpected alliances of their own, changing the entire face of the conflict.

  • Cruel Crown

  • The Red Queen Series
  • By: Victoria Aveyard
  • Narrated by: Andi Arndt, Jayne Entwistle, Amanda Dolan
  • Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 773
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 716
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 716

Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary - how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lie ahead for her in royal life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a helpful look into the world

  • By Johanna on 06-27-17

2 little prequels to Red Queen

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

This little audiobook is actually a combination of two of the Red Queen novellas – Queen Song and Steel Scars - fleshed out with a long preview of Glass Sword, the second book in the Red Queen series. Both Queen Song and Steel Scars are prequels to Red Queen. If I had realized this before getting this audiobook, I might not have purchased it, as I already had the kindle versions of both novellas.

However, the performances of both books were well done.

I kind of liked Queen Coriane's story the best, although it was too short. But having read the first three books in the main series I am coming to appreciate Farley a lot more, and this was a good introduction to the Red Guard and Farley's background.