Review of Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl

December 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Revolting Rhymes and Dirty BeastsRevolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts
By Roald Dahl; Read by Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Miriam Margolyes
Publisher: Penguin Audio
[UNABRIDGED] –  1 hour

Themes: / poetry / children / fairy tales / mischievous animals /

Publisher summary:

Revolting Rhymes

Did you think Cinderella married the prince and lived happily ever after, or that the three little pigs outsmarted the wolf? Think again! Master storyteller Roald Dahl adds his own darkly comic twists to six favorite tales, complete with rambunctious rhymes and hilarious surprise endings.

Dirty Beasts

Roald Dahl’s inimitable style and humor shine in this collection of poems about mischievous and mysterious animals. From Stingaling the scorpion to Crocky-Wock the crocodile, Dahl’s animals are nothing short of ridiculous. A clever pig with an unmentionable plan to save his own bacon and an anteater with an unusually large appetite are among the characters created by Dahl in these timeless rhymes. This new, larger edition is perfect for listening.

This brief and unabridged audio production begins with Revolting Rhymes then progresses into Dirty Beasts. There is music arranged as dividers between the various rhymes. I usually do not like music in audio productions but this is the exception. I appreciated how the music provided a moment for laughter or reflection, and I never felt as if the musical interludes were distracting. Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Miriam Margolyes take turns reading the selections. All of them do a fantastic job, and not once did a narrator overacting the material pull me away from the text. I think Penguin Audio got this right.

While this is aimed at a youthful audience, it’s accessible for all ages. Those who are younger will enjoy the enthusiastic readings and rhyming schemes on display. For the older reader/listener, the cleverness of Dahl is truly something to appreciate.

Incidentally, my favorite was “The Toad and the Snail.”

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of Widow’s Web by Jennifer Estep

December 25, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Widow's WebWidow’s Web (Elemental Assassin #7)
By Jennifer Estep; Performed by Lauren Fortgang
Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Audible 2012
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 discs; 10 hours, 43 minutes

Themes: / urban fantasy / assassin / southern / casinos / romance /

Publisher summary:

I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique. Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

In this episode of Gin Blanco’s life, things are going well since her return to Ashland. Then one night after an especially nice dinner Owen and Gin run into Selena, Owen’s ex that he may or may not have gotten over. Selena is more than what meets the eye – so Gin is worried about her relationship with Owen, we have a new character who maybe setting the spider up or maybe he is a friend and in the middle of everything Eva asks Gin to do something where the stakes are almost to high.

I seem to have a love hate relationship with this series. The issue I have in most of these books is Gin is like the worst assassin ever yet she seems to think she is the best. I just want her for once to be able to kill someone without getting her butt handed to her. When we left Gin last time she was emotionally strong and I loved it. In this book she is back to being whiny and insecure. The other challenge in this book was with Owen normally he is much more decisive but this time the rose colored glasses just felt like to much.

The best thing about this book is the introduction to a few new characters. I also loved the beginning and Gins planned attack it was nice to see her with a plan!! I am also enjoying the dream sequences that Gin seems to be having in the past few books, I wonder if she or we will figure out why all these dreams now and what they mean in total not just as lessons she needs to remember to deal with the situation at hand. I was also impressed with Eva, I have always liked her as a character so it is good to see her growing up – but um the romantic factor there is very very ICKY!!

I listened to this version on audio and the reader is the lovely Lauren Fortgang. I really enjoy the voices she gives to the characters it is like the perfect amount of southern charm.

Posted by Dawn V.

Review of Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

December 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Gameboard of the GodsGameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
By Richelle Mead; Read by Emily Shaffer
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: June 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 16 hours

Themes: / urban fantasy / ritualistic murder / military /

Publisher summary:

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

I listened to Gameboard of the Gods on audio and to me it feels more like science fiction than urban fantasy. The book is a bit hard to review because it kind of evolves as you go a long and I would not want to spoil it for anyone.

The story takes place in the RUNA (Republic of North America) think a future country that is a unified Canada and USA. Dr. Justin March was a servitor who has been exiled to Panama, his citizenship has been taken from him and emotionally he is barely surviving life. Back in the RUNA there is a serial killer who likes to kill on the full moon. Other servitors have been unsuccessful in solving the crimes. Out of desperation Justin’s old employers have come to Panama with Mae and elite soldier with the RUNA to find and bring Justin back to the RUNA with the hope of getting the murders solved. Justin is dying to come home but he decides to get as much out of the deal as possible and he ends up bringing his friends daughter home with him so she can have the chance at a better education. But things don’t go as planned and Justin and Mae find themselves in an almost hopeless situation.

The story is told from three points of view, Justin, Mae and Tessa. Justin and Tessa make total sense you get a feel for two very different sides of the world and you also find out how similar they actually are to one another. I liked both Justin and Mae. Mae is a beautiful killer yet she is still a sensitive soul despite her upbringing – Justin on the other hand is crazy smart, his mind is continuously working so he uses drugs and alcohol to cope and to relax. I did not care for his comfort in using people to meet his ends especially with women and sex. Tessa on the other hand feels like an afterthought – I did like her character but she did not add much to the plot but perhaps in future books she will do something.

A major challenge with this book is you really do not know what is going on until you are about halfway in. Like it took me forever to figure out what the is a servitor?? It took a bit longer to figure out Horatio and Magnus. SO while it works because it made me curious it was also annoying because I never found answers to some questions like what happened to cause the government to sanction religion?? While I would classify this book as sci-fi the world is clearly challenged with technology – so we have a car that can drive itself and a tablet that does it all but other than that it feels kind of like life here in the old USA which rather sucks for sci-fi. Last but not least I would have liked a bit more mythology – we get a glimpse of them with various cults but I think it could have made for an even better story.

As I mentioned I listened to this book on audio, for me a narrator can make or break a book. Emily Shaffer was not a terrible narrator but I do not think she was the best person for this book. Reading a book with so many POV’s means she should have sounded different but to me she always sounds the same. Justin and Mae are rather hardened people they hide who they are from everyone all the time but Emily made them sound so chipper and curious which for me was the opposite of how they were described. My issues with the narration and the lack of world building information made this a slow going audio book.

The book totally has challenges but in the end I still enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to the next one in the series.

Posted by Dawn V.

The SFFaudio Podcast #244 – NEW RELEASES / RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

TheSFFaudioPodcast600The SFFaudio Podcast #244 – Jesse, Jenny, and Seth talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show: Christmas-edition New Releases podcast; festivus; Seinfeld; Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War; pneumatic zeppelins (related to Led Zeppelin?) vs. non-pneumatic airships; Cherie Priest‘s Clockwork Century steampunk series; Gail Carriger‘s “tea-punk” Parasol Protectorate novels; Wizard of Oz: A Steampunk Adventure; HBO’s completely unrelated Oz television series; Seal Team 13, military vs. supernatural?; Lovecraftian horror vs. traditional horror; Call of Cthulhu role-playing game; World War Z; Overdraft: The Orion Exclusive; Jesse laments that neither Jenny nor Seth has seen Aliens; Sigourney Weaver; Gamadin: Word of Honor; Jesse loves audio drama; Night Vale; Blake’s 7; “audio drama is television or movies without pictures”; Visions of the Future now unabridged; limitations of the Star Wars spinoffs; R.A. Salvatore killed a beloved Star Wars character; Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey; a Star Wars Oedipus story?; When the World Shook by H. Rider Haggard; Haggard’s She; casual racism in turn-of-the-century fiction; Haggard is the English Edgar Rice Burroughs; Rumpole series (the actor narrates the audiobooks); Inspector Morse; Agatha Christie; Touch Me Eternally; X-Men; Silvered by Tanya Huff; are shape shifters the new vampires?; Charlaine Harris and True Blood; etymology of werewolf; were bat?; every Batman story has been done; Dangerous Women anthology; Lawrence Block; Legends anthologies; George R. R. Martin’s Dunk and Egg stories; Well of Echoes series; geomancy = crystal magic; ABC (the Australian one) book club; CSPAN’s Book TV; Reading Rainbow and the LaVar Burton revival; Herland; Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail and As Easy as ABC; Gungadin and “to carry the water”; Clark Gable; more on racism; White Man’s Burden; DreamScape Audio; The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle; sequel to The Lost World; similar to The Purple Cloud by M. P. Sheil; Jurassic Park; 1634 by David Weber and Eric Flint; time travel; George Guidall; Jonny Ive (and Seth’s bad Ive impression) read by Simon Vance; Chronicles of Light and Shadow by Liesel Schwartz; Waterlogged Holiday Collection; Kevin J. Anderson’s War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches; Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters; Star Trek pancakes attack; Connie Willis especially To Say Nothing of the Dog; Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome; Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel; The Great Gatsby audio edition including Fitzgerald’s letters; Audible translating George R. R. Martin; Latin translations of Harry Potter; Call Down the Stars; metafiction; the prehistorical sub-genre;  Clan of the Cave Bear; Ian Rutherford; James A. Michener; Harry Harrison; The Wonder Stick (spoiler: it’s a bow!); Jack London; A Quarter to Fear narrated by Mr. Jim Moon at Hypnogoria (Jesse actually bought it!); H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast; Audible Editor’s Picks; Audie Awards; Doctor Sleep by Stephen King won Audible Pick of the Year; The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker; American Gods by Neil Gaiman; Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia; The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Coraline by Neil Gaiman; Ender’s Game Alive; The Silo Saga; The Human Division by John Scalzi; The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell; Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo; Peter Clines 14 and Ex-Heroes series; Roald Dahl’s Matilda narrated by Kate Winslet; tweeting coffee;

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN

December 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Orbit Science Fiction No. 5 - Includes The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick

Here is the relevant passage from the Wikipedia entry:

After the author’s death, a nonexistent story with the same title was included under the new renewal registration number RE0000190631. This created the appearance that “The Last Of The Masters” was still under copyright protection.

I have a scan of that false renewal. It is HERE.

The Last Of The Masters was not published in Imaginative Tales, November 1955 (see for yourself HERE).

The Last Of The Masters was first published in Orbit Science Fiction No. 5. And that issue of that magazine was published and copyrighted in 1954:

ORBIT Science Fiction No. 5 - Table of contents (includes The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick)

As the copyright for The Last Of The Masters was not properly renewed in its 28th year The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Here is a |PDF| of The Last Of The Masters.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Boy by Roald Dahl

December 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

BoyBoy: Tales of Childhood
By Roald Dahl; Read by Dan Stevens
Penguin Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 3 hours, 11 minutes

Publisher summary:

Where did Roald Dahl get all of his wonderful ideas for stories?

From his own life, of course! As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, best-selling books, Roald Dahl’s tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny. Did you know that Roald Dahl nearly lost his nose in a car accident? Or that he was once a chocolate candy tester for Cadbury’s? Have you heard about his involvement in the Great Mouse Plot of 1924? If not, you don’t yet know all there is to know about Roald Dahl. Sure to captivate and delight you, the boyhood antics of this master storyteller are not to be missed!

At the start of his book, Roald Dahl says, “An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life, and it usually filled with all sorts of boring details. This is not an autobiography.”

Rather than a straight autobiography, it’s a short collection of some of his most powerful memories of childhood – the good, the scary, the hilarious and mischievous — all revealed with his amazing ability to paint a scene with the most evocative details and to find humor in even the worst situations.

Roald Dahl knows just the right details to capture your imagination and take you back to that feeling of being a kid, when the world is magical and mysterious and kinda gross, and Dan Stevens does a great job of narrating these tales with an engaging, slightly amused tone. Even readers who don’t know Roald Dahl’s books (they do exist: I know one!) would probably enjoy this book just for the trip back to a child’s perspective.

For fans, though, the collection is even more special, because it’s like taking a tour through Roald Dahl’s mind. Although Dahl rarely mentions it, if you know his work you’ll see the inspirations for his later stories and characters all through these anecdotes.

The most obvious one is in his near-religious awe of the candy shop. It promises so much and is so filled with delights, but the woman who works there is frightening and Roald Dahl in his friends come up with all kinds of conspiracy theories about the seeming-magic of some of the candy: for example, they are convinced the licorice shoelaces are made of rat’s blood, and the ‘tonsil ticklers’ candies are saturated with anesthetic to subdue children.

Then there is Mr. Cadbury, who regularly sent Roald Dahl’s family boxes of unidentified new flavors chocolates to taste-test. It’s not hard to see the seeds for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when you hear Roald Dahl’s childhood revelation that, somewhere, there are people working away in inventing rooms to come up with new and amazing flavors of chocolate.

Along with all the more colorful and whimsical stuff are the darker stories of his boyhood, like having doctors turn up with their surgical bags and chloroform to operate right there in the living room, and many awful dealings with bullies of all sizes – but even the most horrid character becomes someone to delight in because of Roald Dahl’s cheerful wit and playful descriptive detail. You’re right there with him when the sheer force of the “foul and beastly” matron’s voice causes that “massive bosom of hers to quiver like a blancmange.”

Posted by Marissa van Uden

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