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Jesslyn H

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  • Under the Empyrean Sky

  • The Heartland Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Chuck Wendig
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 120
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 113

Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It's the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow - and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Superb reading of a really cool story.

  • By Dan Absalonson on 10-22-13

I went back again and again...

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

Reviewed: 10-22-18

EDIT: 7/16/2015 - Guess that 5 star rating was worth it - 3 reads in 3 years. Reading t again so I'm super fresh for the final installment.


EDIT 3/28/14 - I was horrified to discover that I hadn't purchased this book for my Kindle but had only borrowed it from the Kindle Lenders list. I've rectified that lack, gotten the audiobook and have pre-ordered the sequel, Blightborn as well.

EDIT 10/21/13 - I am now thinking that I should have given this book 5 stars and am changing my rating. Why? Because I cannot get it out of my head! I keep wondering about the next installment and going to see if there is any info on it. I read this book in August and now--in October--I'm still as anxious to get my hands on some more. Thats a great feeling and perfect example on how much the book affected me.


-------------------

This book was quite good and I added the series to my auto-buy list. For those who tried to compare this to The Hunger games--I ain't buying it. The only similarities IMO are YA and dystopian.

The Hunger Games didn't have the cruelty, darkness or desperation in this book. And the POV shifts were smoothly done.

I am more than eager for the next books in this series. Well done Mr. Wendig.

  • Mage's Blood

  • The Moontide Quartet, Book 1
  • By: David Hair
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 26 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,384
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,216
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,217

Most of the time the Moontide Bridge lies deep below the sea, but every 12 years the tides sink and the bridge is revealed, its gates open for trade. The Magi are hell-bent on ruling this new world, and for the last two Moontides they have led armies across the bridge on "crusades of conquest". Now, the third Moontide is almost here, and this time the people of the East are ready for a fight... but it is three seemingly ordinary people that will decide the fate of the world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Nick Podehl is great as usual, but only read this if you've read everything else in the genre...

  • By Chance on 07-24-17

Great Epic Fantasy series

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

Reviewed: 08-23-18

This review is for the entire series. I flipped between the Kindle and audiobooks for each book, depending on my circumstances, but the audiobook narration was so good that sometimes I’d listen even if I was in a position to read. I really loved this series and wish it had and was getting more press. Hey you word of mouth folks! Talk about this series! As an avid fantasy reader, I’m a bit embarrassed that this series has been around since 2012 and I hadn’t read it yet. Also, unlike some, it doesn’t feel aged.

This is a big and truly epic series, Each book is over 600 pages long

While there were some elements that I struggled with, for the most part these books hit me right in my epic fantasy heart. There was the coming of age, the new powers save the world thing, the quest, the evil ruler, the warrior woman, the evil church thing and other fantasy tropes, but I never felt that they were overdone. Pretty much every major character seemed like ‘real’ people to me—flaws, irritants and all. And they stayed true to who they were. While the ‘good guys’ weren’t all good—the bad guys were god-awful evil. Some right away and others with a slow and dreadful spiral into pure malevolence. I let out more than one verbal OMG and just as many laughs.

One of the things that I enjoyed was the fact that the series took place in a world that had enough shades of our own world to give the narrator and story-telling a (somewhat stereotypical) base offering the user solid frame of reference. IMO, it enabled the writer to skip long expositions of world-building. And the narrator took full advantage of that, doing a brilliant job on the Indian, Germanic, Italian another accents used—at least to my American ear.

The cast of characters was large and I had to go back and forth a couple of times to make sure I had the ‘right’ one, but it seemed like almost all of them got their HEA or just reward as appropriate. This man knows how to wrap up a series because things got REAL in the last book! It’s so enjoyable to walk away satisfied from a series end. You don’t have to love what happened to your favorite character, but you should walk away full. 😊 There may have been a couple of omissions, but I’ve filed them away in my head for my next read just in case I ‘missed’ them. Because yes, I’ll be reading this series again. For now, I’m moving to his sequel to this series—The Sunsurge Quartet (unfinished as of today, 8/2018).

The only think I could say that I didn’t enjoy in this book were the sex scenes, and I was thankful that they’d tapered to ‘not much’ by the last books in the quartet. But that may just be me. I never thought that fantasy needed sex scenes explained—I’m pretty much a fade to black girl for books and movies. The other adult aspect to note was the use of adult language, which frankly seemed realistic without being overdone.

All in all, I look forward to more from David Hair and have added him to my list of followed authors.

  • The Stone in the Skull

  • The Lotus Kingdoms, Book 1
  • By: Elizabeth Bear
  • Narrated by: Rendah Heywood, Firdous Bamji
  • Length: 12 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 15

The Gage was an artist, once, and a lover. To avenge his murdered beloved, he allowed a sorcerer to sheathe his body in mirrored bronze. His vengeance is complete now; the sorcerer has long since perished. But the Gage endures. The Dead Man had a purpose once as well: he was raised to be the protector of a Caliph. The Caliph died; the Dead Man did not. Now the Dead Man and the Gage have become companions of the sword, itinerant mercenaries. They bear a message to the besieged young queen of one of the Lotus Kingdoms.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Jesslyn H on 12-07-17

Wonderful

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

Reviewed: 12-07-17

While I was listening to this book on audio, I kept thinking "This is like beautiful poetry. This is like a 5 course dinner". I don't even LIKE poetry and am not sure that a formal cruise ship dinner rates as any 5-course, but it was the only way my brain could interpret and define how beautifully Ms Bear put her words and this story together.

This story is about as far from fast-paced as you can get, but it builds and builds and builds while you realize what it's all about. Women and (in)equality of power, prejudice, religion, gender identity, life, love....and magic.

All of that sounds like an exhausting list, but is done so subtly that you don't get hit over the head with anything. Much like the exquisite unwinding of her language, the plot slowly unwinds as well. Right up to the bang at the end.

I cannot express how eager I am to get my hands on the rest of the series. This book was VERY well done. Hm....re-reading my review. Perhaps I used the wrong analogy; some of you lucky souls will get what I mean. :)

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Shadow of What Was Lost

  • The Licanius Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: James Islington
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 25 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,815
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,872
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,838

It has been 20 years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs, once thought of almost as gods, were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs' fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion's Four Tenets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely a standout in the fantasy genre

  • By Amazon Customer on 04-29-15

Nice start to series

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

Reviewed: 09-05-17

I kept getting Stormlight Archive vibes, which is a compliment to Sanderson, but thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series. It did take the oh-so-excellent narration by Michael Kramer to fully get me engaged, but once I did, the storyline set its hooks in me.

The only problem that I had was the seemingly utter stupidity of the teenaged protaganists. Maybe I'm too far removed from that age, and just don't remember how stupid I was, but it seems to be my new pet peeve in books.

I've already purchased the audio and Kindle versions of book #2, An Echo of Things to Come.

  • The Stone Sky

  • By: N. K. Jemisin
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 14 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,610
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,328
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,321

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women. Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter, Nassun, and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe. For Nassun, her mother's mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This review is for the entire series

  • By Jesslyn H on 09-05-17

This review is for the entire series

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

Reviewed: 09-05-17

(Review added to all books in series)
This was so good, I'll probably re-read the entire series again by the end of this year. This was truly a 5-course meal of a trilogy. Jemisin never hesitated staring an ugly truth right in the eye and it really paid off. Nothing came easy and there wasn't a hint of a Mary Sue moment.

It was refreshing to be offered a series where the main character was over 40, had kids and had already lived a full range of experiences. This is the second series that I've read by Jemisin and as much as I loved the 1st one (The Inheritance Trilogy), this was even better. I hope it doesn't sound pompous, but you can see more maturity in both the writing and the story-line.

The audio-book narrator, Robin Miles, is headed to the top of my narrator list. She can add everything from an African to a Gaelic? to a Slavic accent without sounding fake. It really brings the characters to life in a nice way.

I'm sure I'll still be re-reading this series decades from now. It's easy to see why Jemisin won the Hugo back to back on this one.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Magelord

  • The Spellmonger Series, Book 3
  • By: Terry Mancour
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 31 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 7,108
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,647
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 6,612

How can Sire Minalan fight goblins, plots, poverty, and politics, all from his remote and rustic vale, while keeping the peasants in line and the Warbird of West Fleria at bay? With wit, courage, determination, and a healthy dose of magic. And when the new king tasks him to find a way to slay a dragon, an ordinary knight might shy away from the quest. For Sire Minalan, it's just another day on the job as a magelord!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The biggest Flaw in this epic

  • By sign on 10-11-17

I'm really loving this series

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

Reviewed: 08-03-17

I wasn't convinced in Book one, but since then, Minalan has charmed me. I previously didn't like him much as a character, but loved the story and the world that it's set in. That's all changed as Mr Mancour series (and characters) matures.

Things are only getting better. I love these books and am purchasing the Kindle and the Audio version. I only wish the rest of the series was on audio. I'm off to purchase the rest of the series!

  • Warmage

  • Spellmonger, Book 2
  • By: Terry Mancour
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 27 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,788
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,264
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,227

After facing a hopeless siege, an implacable foe and an impossible escape, you would think that Minalan the Spellmonger would be able to rest - but the armies of the undead goblin shaman Shereul (known as the Dead God to his human victims) are rolling over the western reaches of the rustic Duchy of Alshar and is headed toward the heart of the Duchy of Castal. Thousands are fleeing for their lives as hordes of goblins pour out of Boval Vale and devastate the rugged fiefs of the Alshari Wilderlands.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • An amazing story, written in a frustrating format

  • By Jared on 07-11-17

Good one!

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

Reviewed: 05-23-17

The narration was top​ notch, and the main character FINALLY grew on me so it is with delight that I discovered quite a few more books in the series. Unfortunately, none are on audio, so Kindle it is!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Obelisk Gate

  • The Broken Earth, Book 2
  • By: N. K. Jemisin
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 13 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,851
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,412
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,403

This is the way the world ends, for the last time. The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night. Essun - once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger - has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever. Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power - and her choices will break the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Miles is becoming my favorite narrator

  • By Jesslyn H on 08-29-16

Miles is becoming my favorite narrator

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

Reviewed: 08-29-16

Can I give this 10 stars? Jemisin is a freaking writing god. If anything, this was better than the 1st book. I rate this series alongside the Stormlight Archive and have no doubts that I'll be reading and rereading them both many, many times.

The narration was just beautiful. I love the varied accents that Miles can bring to the table.

My only complaint is that the audio and Kindle versions aren't synced so I had to always make sure I switched back and forth at a chapter break. That is more than a bit of a pain.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • The Fifth Season

  • The Broken Earth, Book 1
  • By: N. K. Jemisin
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,878
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,166
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,137

This is the way the world ends. For the last time. A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great, red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal and long-dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the Earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ORIGINAL AND MOVING, EXCELLENT!

  • By Fantasy on 12-01-15

Too good for word

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

Reviewed: 08-09-15

Holy crap that was good! THis book was a labyrinth. A slow, wandering, desperate, sad and exciting look into a dystopia that was truly frightening.

I really don't have the words for this one. It was completely unexpected and I just....wow. I consider myself truly lucky to have stumbled on Ms Jemisin. So, so good. I recommend to anyone that loves fantasy.

In addition, the narration by Robin Miles was superb. She was perfection.

44 of 56 people found this review helpful

  • The King's Blood

  • The Dagger and the Coin, Book 2
  • By: Daniel Abraham
  • Narrated by: Pete Bradbury
  • Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,322
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,216
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,218

Acclaimed author Daniel Abraham’s works have been nominated for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award. In this compelling follow-up to The Dragon’s Path, Geder Palliako enjoys high social standing as protector to the crown prince of Antea - but a looming war threatens to change his way of life. Meanwhile, Cithrin bel Sarcour is counting her blessings: long under close surveillance, she hopes a battle will be the opportunity she needs to regain her freedom.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Best Kept Secret in Epic Fantasy Continues

  • By Dave on 05-15-13

Epic fantasy at its best

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

Reviewed: 04-02-15

As a fantasy fan I am overcome with the 'epicness' of this series. I have the Kindle and audio versions (so far) and give it a re-read at the release of each new book. Each time, I feel the same excitement, despair, hope, anger and everything else that a good story brings.

I love the narration. Pete Bradbury can read for me anytime.
(Posting for all books in the series.)

3 of 3 people found this review helpful