Review of Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

April 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Murder of Crows by Anne BishopMurder of Crows (The Others #2)
By Anne Bishop; Narrated by Alexandra Harris
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication date: 4 March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 14 hrs and 13 mins

Themes: / urban fantasy / blood prophet / feathers / shape-shifting /

Publisher summary:

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more. 

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

The book was wonderful. I loved how the story expanded beyond Meg, Simon and the Courtyard. In this story we get to see a lot more of the world and are introduced to a plethora of new characters. The only sad thing about the expansion of the new world is I miss getting to read more about some of the characters we met in the last book like Jake and Winter. The plot for this story is fairly straight forward so with all the new introductions and new places it was easy for me to keep track. While the story expanded it did so by going deeper into the politics and relationships between humans and the others.

My favorite thing about Anne Bishop’s writing is her focus on relationships. It is fascinating to watch Meg and Simon figure out how to be friends. Simon is a wolf and he is unsure how long he wants to hold his human skin, he also worries that being human so much is changing him. Meanwhile Meg is a blood prophet who has never been able to make choices and with so much turmoil happening her need to cut is greater than ever not to mention she is finding it a challenge to not accidentally break her skin. Likewise there is the relationship between Simon and Monty, Monty struggles to understand the terra indigene’s outlook on things without alienating the humans. Then Monty has his own issues with his daughter which I hope gets resolved because it just breaks my heart. While I could go on and on the point here is how these character’s interact with each other just makes the story even better.

The narrator for the book was Alexandra Harris. She has quite the smooth voice and while I enjoyed listening to her narrate and perform the voices of female characters, I did not care for her work as voicing the male characters. She also read a bit slower than I would have liked and so I solved that by speeding it up on my ipod. In a perfect world she would be partnered with someone like James Marsters and for me this would have been the perfect audio book.

Posted by Dawn V.

Review of Rule Breaker by Lora Leigh

March 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Rule Breaker by Lora LeighRule Breaker (A Novel of the Breeds #29)
By Lora Leigh; Narrated by Brianna Bronte
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 4 February 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 17 hours, 50 minutes

Themes: / romance / genetic engineering / breeding /

Publisher summary:

Lion Breed and enforcer Rule Breaker has just a few rules he doesn’t break. Not for anything. Not for anyone – like never have sex with a woman outside his own breed, especially a human woman. Especially someone too helpless, too fun loving and too full of life to ever be able to protect herself, let alone help him to protect her. If the damned animal inside him insists on a mate, then why pick her? A woman who is an easy target and who can be used as a weapon against him at any time. But what he suspects is mating heat may not be that at all.

Rule Breaker is the 29th book in the Breed series by Lora Leigh. Our feature couple is Rule, a lion breed and Gypsy a human. The story starts off very sad, we witness Gypsy the night her brother is murdered. For Gypsy her brother feels like the only family she really has and losing him almost breaks her.  Gypsy is consumed with guilt and she takes up her brother mission to find purpose. Unfortunately she becomes emotionally suspended in time, closing off all of her emotions, which was rather heart breaking. Meanwhile Rule is determined to never mate and he is sure that Gypsy is nothing more than sexual attraction. As you can imagine the road to being mated was full of bumps.

I liked Gypsy a lot! I think the beginning of the story is what endeared her to me, I think it was easy to identify why she was making choices and it was so easy to root for her. Quickly she became one of my favorite heroines in the Breed series; not only is she smart and resourceful but she has a lot of guts. Then there are times when we can see she is incredibly lonely and alone, which for me made it all the better when she becomes helpless in Rule’s arms. It is like weather she wants to or not she is feeling emotions and it was cute how she would fight it. Meanwhile Rule had his moments of idiocy but they really were not that bad compared to other Breeds. This was a cute couple and you can see how well they fit together.

In this book we get to see a good deal of espionage and breed manipulation. Once nice thing is we get some resolution into Amber. Sadly that was a bit of a letdown because I felt like it should not have taken 8 books for all these scheming people to figure it out.  There were other minor plots that bogged down the story line  and made the plot a bit convoluted and overly complex. To keep them all going we there was a growing cast of characters at times I felt like I needed some kind of appendix just to keep them all straight. At times this made the book a bit challenging.

Normally I read Breed books but this one I listened to on audio. Honestly the narrator just did not work for me, not so much because she was bad but her voice did not fit the story, I think I would have preferred a male reader. Hearing a woman say things like ‘his cock was throbbing’ or ‘ she was indeed wet the scent of her sweet juices…’ just took me out of the story. It did not even sound like good bed room talk you know with husky sounding voices instead it sounds like someone making fun of Captain Kirk in Star Trek you know how he has those dramatic pauses. I also did not think she had good character distinction it just sounded like she had a frog in her throat.

At the end of the day I am left with trying to tease out if my issues with the book are because of the story or because of the narrator. I am sure the romance part of the story worked for me. I am also sure some of the espionage stuff could have been left out. The multiple plots with Dane and Jonas I am not sure if was overly complicated because I was listening and not reading.  In the end it was still a solid story and I am hoping we get Cassie and Dogs story next then maybe Dane’s. I wonder who his mate will be?

Posted by Dawn V.

The SFFaudio Podcast #253 – READALONG: The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

February 24, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

TheSFFaudioPodcast600The SFFaudio Podcast #253 – Jesse, Seth, and John Feaster discuss The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Talked about on today’s show: H.P. Lovecraft’s essay Supernatural Horror in Literature; the House as a character in the novel; the novel’s memorable characters; The Scarlet Letter is “a sentence, a trial unto itself”; the novel’s modern resonance; Jim Crow gingerbread; setting and character trump plot; the rambling plot imitates life; Hawthorne’s subtle use of humor; Hepzibah = Lovecraft?; the family chickens, Chanticleer is an allusion to Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale; Chanticleer dredges up John’s horrible memories of Rock-a-doodle; comparison to various Lovecraft stories; Hawthorne’s characters are concepts, but well-drawl concepts; allegory with depth à la Tolkien; atavistic guilt; hypnotism, mesmerism, and phrenology, oh my!; phenomena as fads in science fiction and popular culture; Edgar Allen Poe’s work, especially The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar and Fall of the House of Usher; Arthur Conan Doyle is to spiritualism as Glenn Danzig is to Satanism; The X-Files, “I Want to Believe”; John Keats’s theory of negative capability; Mark F. Smith’s LibriVox narration; man’s identity tied to real estate; a Marxist reading of the novel; the house as metaphor for the human heart; Pennsylvania and the great American land grab; the novel’s peculiarly Puritan nature; real-life Pynchon family ancestors of author Thomas Pynchon; inspiration for the fictional house now a tourist attraction; Hawthorne’s defense of writing a romance in the novel’s preface; the novel’s horrendous screen adaptations and slightly better comic book adaptations; The Haunting of Hill House; the power of interpretive haunting; revival of the Gothic tradition e.g. in The Duchess of Duke Street; Hawthorne plays amazing tricks with point of view; “guns are America’s pit bulls”; Joe Hill’s Locke and Key.

The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The House Of The Seven Gables - Classics Illustrated

Characters in The House Of The Seven Gables

Gold Key - The Twilight Zone - Pinup #5

Word Cloud for Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft

Word Cloud for The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Phoebe and Holgrave

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Archetype by M.D. Waters

February 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

ArchetypeArchetype (Archetype #1)
By M.D. Waters; Read by Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 2 February 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 10 hours, 22 minutes

Themes: / dystopia / reproduction / romance / near future / suspense / thriller /

Publisher summary:
Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men – one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which….

This audiobook kept me listening until I finished. I couldn’t stop! Comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood are unavoidable with this book, but in this world where women are valued and imprisoned in order to bear children, M.D. Waters has also added in an element of romance. This means descriptions of the men Emma is interested in, and sex. I don’t mind romance, but I think if I were a woman being controlled and manipulated by men, I would be less obsessed with marriage and sex. But Emma has very little memory, and at first no reason not to trust her husband. All she wants is to get past her accident and back to normal life.  She can’t fully recover because of her dreams.

I can’t say much more without giving it away, and the best part about the book is how all the details are revealed. Archetype is suspenseful and creepy up until the end, and the end leads nicely into the setup for the next novel (Prototype) while being its own self-contained story.

I enjoy Khristine Hvam as a narrator – I had listened to her performance of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and her voice is well suited to a near-future dystopian romance.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

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 Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

TITLEMidnight in Austenland
By Shannon Hale; Read by Stina Nielsen
9 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2012
Themes: / Fantasy / Jane Austen / Romance / Reading /

I am a huge fan of Shannon Hale’s books. I love her style and her characters. I loved “Austenland,” which is not necessarily a prequel but is set in the same location.

Midnight in Austenland is about a woman who is recently divorced. She has two kids, her own business and an ex-husband who makes her feel like a loser. Her friends try to set her up on dates, but they all fail. No one wants a 30-something divorced mother of two. So, she decides to take a vacation. Her travel agent suggests she try Austenland. A stay in a regal manner house and live for two weeks as if she were in the time of Jane Austen’s books.

She arrives unsure of what to expect and is both captivated and amused by the other guests. One is an entrepreneur and the other a rock star. Along the way the husband of the woman who runs Austenland is murdered and the guests and actors must find out what happened, keep anyone else from dying and manage to stay in character.

The story is part Jane Austen and part Agatha Christie and entirely charming. Murder, romance, intrigue. I loved it. You will, too. A light, clean romance.

Posted by Charlene Harmon

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