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Alison

Brinston, ONTARIO, Canada
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  • 91
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  • The Sky Is Yours

  • A Novel
  • By: Chandler Klang Smith
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 15 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 56

In the burned-out, futuristic city of Empire Island, three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a pair of dragons that circle the skies. When violence strikes, reality star Duncan Humphrey Ripple V, the spoiled scion of the metropolis' last dynasty; Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg, his tempestuous, death-obsessed betrothed; and Abby, a feral beauty he discovered tossed out with the trash; are forced to flee everything they've ever known.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointed

  • By Rachel on 11-12-18

a hot mess

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

Reviewed: 04-09-19

This book had a lot of potential and a lot of great ideas and some very good writing, but somehow, all put together, it just didn't work for me. I'll try to explain what put me off this book, but there's a lot of factors.

Firstly, a LOT happens in this book. It would be a lot if we were following one of the three main characters' stories, yet we try to follow all three plus some side characters. Consequently, the action is very start and stop. We follow characters into situations and then time jumps forward a bit and they get tossed into a new situation without our being able to understand the consequences/implications of the first situation. As a result, it is hard to get involved in character development (if there really is any). The book is about either Duncan or Swanny or Abbey at any given time, but their stories have little relevance to one another.

As a result of so many things going on, the book leaves tons of unanswered questions. Things that should have been super cool bits end up just dangling loose ends. Swanny's teeth are the best example of this. Smith introduces her by saying she grew up in the mansion with only her mother and the dentist. Which is an awesome way to raise questions. Slowly we learn more about the teeth. But in the end, this neat thing turns out to be no more consequential than if Swanny had, say, green hair. By the time she gets to the chaw shop, it basically never comes up again. It's a huge lost opportunity. This sort of lack of follow-through plagues the whole book.

When I finished the book, I felt that there were huge unanswered questions about the premise. Like, is it really dystopia if only one city is affected by these dragons? Is Empire City actually New York City, and if so, why not say so? What happened to the rest of the world? Are they just going along like Empire City isn't constantly on fire? If you are going to invent a city for a book, why not set the book on an invented planet? Why do people drive flying cars in a city where unpredictable dragons rule the skies? I could go on.

Normally, I re-read books that I'm this confused about, and try to figure out why, but I just can't face slogging through all this again, not for a while.

  • The King's Hounds

  • 1
  • By: Martin Jensen, Tara Chace - translator
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 215
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 182
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 182

The year is 1018 and the war with England is finally over, but the unified kingdom ruled by Cnut of Denmark is far from peaceful. Halfdan has lost everything to the war but his sense of humor. Once a proud nobleman, now he wanders the country aimlessly powered only by his considerable charm and some petty theft. When he finds an unlikely ally in Winston, a bookish former monk, the two set out together for Oxford, the seat of the new king.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting mystery and promising new series

  • By Thomas More on 01-05-14

adequate mystery, so-so narration, meh translation

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

Reviewed: 12-08-18

This historical mystery novel had a lot of good things going for it. It was definitely well researched. It's not a time period where there are a lot of other comparable books, so it doesn't seem cliche. The characters are sufficiently interesting. Winston's deductive skills are nicely offset by Halfdan's brutish lack of subtlety. I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to spend a credit on the next book in the series, but if it were to go on sale, I'd definitely pick it up.

As many others have pointed out, the narrator is a bit annoying. He's not the worst I've ever heard and he doesn't stumble over the old Saxon or Danish names, so that's a plus. What I was far more annoyed by was the iffy translation. For a book into which the author had obviously poured quite a lot of research, the translation frequently disrupted the sense of period, at least for me. They ought to have someone with some background in history at least edit the translation before it was given the go-ahead. For example, words like "backpack" do not ring true to the early medieval time period. When I hear that, it makes me stop thinking about the story. If they had simply used "satchel" then there would not have been that jarring sense of anachronism to break the flow. "Gold-digger" and "boyfriend" are the others which spring immediately to mind as examples of the translation failing to capture the essence of the period.

Long review short: could have been translated better, but overall enjoyable story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Everything Box

  • A Novel
  • By: Richard Kadrey
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 911
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 842
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 838

A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He's going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn't get to do fieldwork, and if he does well, he's certain he'll get a big promotion.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Everything not for Everyone

  • By Mel on 05-12-16

all it's missing is a tacky laugh track

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

Reviewed: 02-01-18

Richard Kadrey wrote this?? Really? Are we sure? I have to say that I came to Richard Kadrey mostly because the aboslutely amazing Jonathan Davis narrates "Butcher Bird", from there, I read the first of the Sandman Slim novels. Then this. It's been a downward slide. 'Butcher Bird' is a strange and complicated novel walking that borderline between deeply allegorical and weird drug trip. Sandman Slim is very adequate urban fantasy (sans romance, heavy on the violence). This book is....juvenile and barely adequate.

The plot has lots of potential to be a sort of zany caper fiasco with all sorts of strange people caught up in the search for this mystery box. But what might be hilarious mishaps and cleverly plotted complications just ends up jumbled and flat. It doesn't help that all the characters are parodies of themselves, and not in a good way. Cliched evil villains (evil Russian, evil government, evil cult (x2), evil zombie) and quirky allies (useless sidekick, paranoid ghost, ex girlfriend) are all boring. Sometimes its hard to tell if the 'witty' dialogue falls flat because of poor writing or Oliver Wyman's completely unsuited narration style.

I have three theories as to how this book came about. One: there's some new author by the name of Richard Kadrey and the two are getting confused. Two: Kadrey had no good ideas so when his publishers wanted something new he pulled out the first novel he ever wrote back in high school, didn't bother to edit it and this is the result. Three: rehab took away Kadrey's weird and wonderful inspiration and this was his best attempt.

Either way, pass on this one, definitely not interested in the sequel.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Carrots

  • Shelby Nichols Adventures, Book 1
  • By: Colleen Helme
  • Narrated by: Wendy Tremont King
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,983
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,814
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,816

Shelby Nichols is an average woman who is married to the only guy she ever fell for. Her life is organized and predictable, revolving around her husband and two children. All that changes the day she stops at the grocery store for some carrots. As the cashier rings up her purchases, a gunman is busy robbing the bank inside the store. When a customer grabs the robber's mask, he is shot and everyone runs for cover. Everyone except Shelby, who finds herself face to face with the killer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic story and flawless audio! Get it!

  • By Dr. Geoff on 11-20-13

telepathy sure doesn't make you smarter

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

Reviewed: 01-28-18

I am giving up on this book about two hours in. The writing (especially the dialogue) is very simplistic and there really doesn't seem to be anything new or interesting going on. The characters are one dimensional and cliche. Exhibit A: a very attractive, ambitious young lawyer who has decided to seduce the main character's husband because (and we are told this) he's the only man who hasn't immediately fallen for her and so she is therefore a bitch. Wow, how new and interesting...

I can take some cliche characters and iffy writing if the plot holds things together. If you are going to write a cat and mouse sort of mystery where the killer pursues the main character, it would help if either was smarter than an actual rodent. At the point in the story where I am giving up, the main character, having been warned repeatedly not to go anywhere alone because a killer might be looking for her, goes jogging alone, sees a strange man following her and then, when she sees the strange man later in the day, decides she should head down to her car parked in the parking garage alone. I don't want/need my characters to be super geniuses, but a little common sense isn't too much to ask for. Foruntately/Unfortunately, the killer is just as stupid as the main character. Here's the woman walking alone in a parking garage, so he tries to run her down with his car (like no one has ever jumped out of the way at the last minute and rolled between some other cars before) and then, only when that doesn't work, tries shooting her. In the killer's defense, he does almost shoot her because she stands there waiting to make her escape via elevator. Ever heard of the stairs?

As others have said, the narrator is very flat and boring. Maybe not her fault though, since perhaps she is trying to accurately portray the very flat and boring main character.

Bottom line: maybe if you're looking for a really mindless fluffy 'mystery' then go for it. But honestly, if you want mediocre mystery, telepathy (and actual romance to add to the plot) just go read the Sookie Stackhouse books.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter audiobook cover art
  • The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter

  • By: Rod Duncan
  • Narrated by: Gemma Whelan
  • Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 74
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 66

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life - as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good but not quite there

  • By Alison on 08-31-17

Good but not quite there

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

Reviewed: 08-31-17

This book was, as the headline indicates, good but not quite great. It had a lot of things going for it, but for me it never quite hit its stride. Overall enjoy-ability of the book was certainly helped by the narrator, who did a good job of pacing and intonation.

Genre wise, it was sort of steam-punk in that they took a dirigible instead of a train but other than the 'device' which is the crux of the plot, it wasn't really that interested in the genre's usual technology. It was sort of alt-history, but the background wasn't really spelled out until the 'glossary' which was included after the end of the book (and so was of no use whatsoever). All the information that the 'glossary' gave about the history of the kingdom vs the republic, and about the foundation of the patent office would have been far more helpful at the beginning of the book.

I think the biggest reason why I am not giving the book more stars was because of Elizabeth the main character. It's not that she's not an interesting character, she is. I think it was the writing style of the novel which never really let us get into her head which left me feeling kind of lost with regard to her motivations. We get lots of Elizabeth's history and plenty of details with regards to how she gets into and escapes from various scrapes, but we don't get much of her overall motivations. We get the surface actions of her and nothing more. She's hired to look into a missing aristocrat but we, the reader, don't get any information about her speculations as to why the aristocrat might be missing. Does she think he ran away? Does she think he was kidnapped? Does she think he's deliberately hiding from his sister? What sort of device does he have? Did he steal it? By leaving us out of these thoughts, I felt like I was just kind of running alongside Elizabeth, not knowing why she was going where she was going. As a result, I didn't understand why she made the decisions which she made. When she tracks him to a notoriously difficult to locate travelling circus, I assumed the missing man had chosen it as a good place to hide, but Elizabeth sneaks around as though he's a prisoner there, and I just couldn't come to grips with her motivations.

Maybe because I felt so distanced from Elizabeth's actions, I found the ending to be sort of anti-climactic all around: the mystery, the technology, the twist. Meh.

While it is a stand alone novel, it does try to set up the books that follow (especially in the 'glossary' at the end which states that Elizabeth brings down the 'gas-lit empire'). Personally, I don't think I'll be picking up any more of the series.

Bottom line: if you're looking for something interesting enough but not deep, it'll keep you sufficiently satisfied.

  • A Curious Beginning

  • By: Deanna Raybourn
  • Narrated by: Angele Masters
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,981
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,580
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,570

As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry - and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • For fans of Elizabeth Peters and Gail Carriger

  • By L. Williams on 06-29-16

curious indeed

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

Reviewed: 05-18-17

I bought this book on the strength of all the positive reviews but sadly, it did not live up to even the low expectations of a fluffy Victorian romance/mystery.

As other reviews have pointed out, the main character is not particularly likable. It seems to be a common thread in novels set in the Victorian era that woman who are 'ahead of their time' are always absolutely obnoxious. It is possible for a woman to be a suffragette and a nice person, believe it or not. I mean, I can't think of any examples in books, because all those suffragettes are like Victoria in this novel, but there must be some.

I can usually get past unlikable characters if the plot makes up for it. Unfortunately, this book really isn't sure what it is. It's trying hard not to be "just" a historical romance, but the lack of romance leaves everything on the 'mystery' aspect of things. And as a 'mystery' novel...well...how to best describe it. Let's say you discovered there had been a murder for which you might be implicated and which the police will be unlikely to solve, if your first reaction would be to run away and join the circus, then this book is definitely for you. If, like a normal person (in a novel anyway), you'd try to investigate the matter yourself, you'll have to wait until at least half the book has gone by before you can get back on board with the story. Consider yourself warned.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Red Seas Under Red Skies

  • By: Scott Lynch
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 25 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,533
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8,507
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,495

After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke Lamora and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can't rest for long - and they are soon back doing what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant. Brutal.

  • By Carol on 08-08-13

start of the series's decline

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

Reviewed: 05-12-17

The Lies of Locke Lamora was one of those amazing, unusual books with such a great premise and interesting characters. So, I suppose it's not really a surprise that the second book in the series couldn't clear the bar which had been set so high.

It's not that this is a bad book, it's complicated and interesting, but where 'Lies' weaves together plot lines and lines of criminal plots without any apparent effort, this book seems weighed down with unnecessarily complicated/overthought elements. In this book we leave Camorr and visit a variety of other locales that Lynch has imagined. Where we explore Camorr through the first book, the second is packed with several different places which instead of learning slowly about, we are bombarded with information on each. If we'd stayed mostly in Tal Verrar, then it might have been alright, but instead Lynch tries to pack several equally detailed places into one.

The pacing in the book is all over the place. Sometimes things move quickly along and jump back and forth as the previous book. Other times we are subjected to endless chapters of Locke and Jean learning to sail. Political plotting in this book becomes to complex that it's sometimes tough to remember who is who and by the time all the twists are out at the very end, I barely followed enough to make sense of what had happened.

I was also disappointed in Lynch's failure to draw together the small details which made 'Lies' such an enjoyable book. For example, in this book we watch as some poor sod fights a swarm of killer wasps for public entertainment. The villain has an office with walls lined with mechanical wasps in jars. Spoiler, they don't switch mechanical wasps with real ones. Sadly. It would have been awesome if they had.

'Lies' ended with the option of reading on in the series, but this book ends with more of an attempted cliffhanger. In case you are looking for my review of the third book, I don't have one. I got maybe seven chapters in, couldn't take Locke's incessant whining and Jean's incessant moping and an entire new set of political folks to try and learn and I just quit. I've decided to place 'Lies' in a spot of honor in my bookshelf and pretend that this book and all the rest to come don't exist.

  • The Man with the Golden Torc

  • Secret Histories, Book 1
  • By: Simon R. Green
  • Narrated by: Stuart Blinder
  • Length: 17 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,309
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,001
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,008

Meet Shaman Bond, aka Eddie Drood, scion of the ancient Drood family. He is devoted to protecting humanity from the forces of darkness. Protected by the secret weapon received at birth by all members of the Drood family - a magical gold torc (i.e., a neck ring) that turns into a suit of nearly impervious golden armor - Eddie faces arcane dangers with healthy doses of wry self-confidence and sarcasm. Then the family matriarch sends him on a mission that turns out to be a deadly setup.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • entertaining

  • By Loren on 04-30-08

invincible guy fights people

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

Reviewed: 05-12-17

The problem with this book is that, in the first chapter, we learn that Eddie has a magical suit of golden armor which he can call up with a word, which protects him from magic, weapons, surveillance (actual sight or video), or harm of any kind. So, knowing this, it's a little difficult to get too worked up about whatever dire and hideous threats he supposedly faces. The chapters read a bit like episodes, each one with whatever villain du jour Eddie faces. It's mostly filler, since he spends two thirds of the book just killing time until he decides to actually do what he knows perfectly well needs to be done.

If you are looking for something fairly entertaining (if you don't think too hard about any plot points and expect only cliche, two-dimensional characters) then I still can't recommend this book, because the narrator is so bad. Many other reviews have pointed this out, I notice. The narrator isn't very good in general and has the absolute worst female voices I've ever heard in any audio book I've listened to. I'm not surprised that he hasn't narrated any further books in the series!

  • Rosemary and Rue

  • An October Daye Novel, Book 1
  • By: Seanan McGuire
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,996
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,735
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,744

The world of Faerie never disappeared: it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, these second-class children of Faerie spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fairy tale with grit.

  • By Jan on 06-14-10

so much backstory

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

Reviewed: 05-12-17

Alright, I get that this is the first novel in a series and so the author is doing her best to introduce us to the characters and the world that she has created. However, some form of plot should really really really have been included in this novel. Every step of the so called 'investigation' which Toby undertakes is weighed down with twice as much back story as actual happenings. After the initial back-story which sets up the investigation, Toby pretty much moves from injury to injury, turning always to another friend/acquaintance with brings, surprise surprise, more backstory. She barely takes an active role in solving the matter, more or less stumbling upon the solution by accident (and by backstory). There are a ton of novels in the series, so maybe things get rolling in following books, but I'm too bored by this one to bother finding out. There are definitely better urban fantasy series out there.

  • Theft of Swords

  • Riyria Revelations, Volume 1
  • By: Michael J. Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 22 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22,584
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,025
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,004

Acclaimed author Michael J. Sullivan created instant best sellers with his spellbinding Riyria Revelations series. This first volume introduces Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy bigger than they can imagine, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery - before it’s too late.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A GOOD START TO A SERIES

  • By Randall on 12-24-18

not sold on the hype

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

Reviewed: 05-12-17

I gather these Riyria books have quite a following, and I'm just not sure I'm ready to jump aboard. It wasn't that the stories (there are two distinct and separate stories in this audiobook) were poorly written as such, but that I wasn't really sold on the characters.

The main duo start out taking a last minute job for the sake of a huge reward despite their initial refusal to do so. Now, if they'd ever read any kind of story themselves, they would have known that it would be a set-up, but perhaps they can be forgiven for walking into that one, although I do wish the author had used something better than this old trope. My main problem with the characters stems from incidents such as this one: having been betrayed by someone, that same person sends them to talk with a secret prisoner; arriving at the secret prison, they are warned that the prisoner is a dangerous mage and a clever liar who will say anything to escape; they go in to speak with the prisoner, who tells them that he is the innocent one and those imprisoning him are actually the evil ones. Of course, having been forewarned that the prisoner was a clever liar, they don't believe him, get the information that they needed and leave...oh wait...no they don't. They buy it hook, line and sinker and break the prisoner out of jail. I just don't buy it. Don't even get me started on the "subtle" foreshadowing of the medallion that the one character wears....

Anyway, I suppose if you are looking for a fun bit of sword and sorcery, then give this a try, just don't think too hard about the plot.