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 Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

December 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Cast in ShadowCast in Shadow (The Chronicles of Elantra #1)
By Michelle Sagara; Performed by Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: November 2011 (Audible)
[UNABRIDGED] – 14.5 hours

Themes: / urban fantasy / orphans / crime /

Seven years ago Kaylin was an orphan living in the fief of Nightshade but live was very unsafe because something was killing children and after their death the children were found with marks tattooed on their skin – at the same time these odd marks began to appear on Kaylin’s arms. Eventually Kaylin flees to the Hawk fief and begins life anew. For the most part she is successful but the murder of children has begun again in Nightshade and this time Kaylin is an officer and Hawklord has called her into investigate. Kaylin is a natural choice as she survived the killings the first time and knows the street of Nightshade well. But the Hawklord will not send her in alone instead he will send her with a Dragon and her childhood friend/enemy Severn and now Kaylin must confront her past.

I started this book on audio and at first I thought I was not paying enough attention because I had no idea who these races of people are and I did not understand the history of the Barrani nor the Leontines. After starting over a few times I decided to borrow the book from the library to catch up and you know turns out the information was never there. Listening to this book was a challenge, the narrator does a nice job keeping the voices somewhat distinct but the vagueness of the writing made it difficult to follow along. For example there is a lot about Kaylin trying to kill Severn but I was more than halfway in before I found out why then when we get the why behind why she wants to kill him and even then it does not fully make sense why she would run and not get understanding or ask questions. Then there are other descriptions that I did not understand for example there is a lot of commentary about the Leontines paws being moist or dry but I know nothing about cats is this supposed to be good or bad?? The author tells this story from Kaylin’s POV and unfortunately she is rather ignorant in everything. I guess the intent would be for us to learn along with her and while that has the potential to work in many series it only adds to the confusion in this one.

The story was not all bad, I found myself interested in the world and the side characters – like the Fifelord of Nightshade and Severn. I also enjoyed the narrator once I gave up trying to understand and just went with the flow. I will also say the author tried the trick of leaving out details so your imagination can take over and while I appreciate this we need a bit more detail to have something to fill in. By the time I got to the last few hours of the tape I just wanted it over and while I am curious to see what happens with the Fifelord and Severn next time I will read the book and it will be a while before I get around to it.

Posted by Dawn V.

Review of More Than Honor by David Weber, et al

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

SFFaudio Review

More than HonorMore Than Honor (Worlds of Honor #1)
By David Weber, David Drake, S. M. Stirling; Read By Victor Bevine, L. J. Ganser, Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 21 May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4805-2813-0
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 discs; 11 hours

Themes: / telepathic tree cats / short stories / military sci-fi / Honor Harrington /

Publisher summary:

New York Times bestselling author David Weber invites David Drake and S.M. Stirling, two of today’s top writers of military science fiction, to join him in an exploration of Honor Harrington’s universe.

 More Than Honor consists of the following four parts.

  1. A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
  2. A Grand Tour by David Drake, narrated by Victor Bevine.
  3. A Whiff of Grapeshot by S.M. Stirling, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
  4. The Universe of Honor Harrington by David Weber, narrated by L. J. Ganser.

This collection starts and ends strong, but unflatteringly sags in the middle.  The story “A Beautiful Friendship” is a short work introducing Stephanie Harrington and the first bonding between humans and treecats.  It’s a powerful piece and Khristine Hvam narrates it with skill and style.  David Weber later lengthened this short story into a novel, which now is on my to-read list.  This collection is worth picking up if for no other reason than to simply read this first story.  I know for those of you who aren’t familiar with Honor Harrington and treecats, the idea of a six-legged cat might seem weird, it’s not, well not really.  Trust me on this, just go with it and all shall become groovy.

The following two works in this collection were in my opinion, unneeded baggage that added little and entertained less.  “A Grand Tour” by David Drake, narrated by Victor Bevine, tells the story of a largely forgettable cast of characters doing stuff that really doesn’t matter to anyone outside of the narrative.  Going from “A Beautiful Friendship” to this was like going from steaming jets of hot water shooting from the showerhead to being sprayed down in county lockup with a fire hose gushing ice water.  Victor Bevine as narrator gives a solid effort though at times, I felt he was overdoing it and this contributed to my overall sense of “Mehh” for this piece.  “A Whiff of Grapeshot” by S.M. Stirling, narrated by Khristine Hvam, wasn’t as bad as “A Grand Tour” but still, not great.  Stirling does tie this into the Honor Universe and Khristine Hvam gives another outstanding performance as reader.  Others may find this short story enjoyable and if you are one of these individuals, I can understand why you may like this.  I however found it lacking any sense of urgency and as a result, I felt unengaged for the duration of this short work.

This collection concludes with an appendix providing a wealth of historical reference to the Honor Universe.  For those of you who are into this series, I highly recommend reading this.  L. J. Ganser narrates this final section, “The Universe of Honor Harrington” by David Weber.  And for what it’s worth, Ganser does a great job of reading mostly historical exposition.  I found some of this material to be fascinating while some of it was dry and skim-worthy but still, good stuff to read through.

In the end, I’d say it’s an okay expansion pack but falls short of what it promises.  Sadly, this collection doesn’t even come close to scratching the military SF itch like Weber has done in the past with his earlier Honor Harrington books.  I was left wanting more treecats and more space battles.

Posted by Casey Hampton.