A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood, was available on Netgalley. I chose it because I wanted to try reading a Asian story written by an Asian author. It is the first book in a series that is described as epic. It is also historical fiction of a culture that is rich and vast. The story is large in every way. It is over 450 pages. The book begins with a Cast of Characters which list each major character's names and tells a little about them.
Guo Jing and Yang Kang were sworn brothers at their birth. Their fathers were heroes who were killed defending their country. Their mothers fled the area. The two boys ended up being raised by the two different powers. A Taoist priest searches for boys, to bring them together again as brothers and as fighting companions. The book reminded me of the great film The Seven Samurai.
It was difficult for me to keep the locations, names, and allegiances straight. I had the same problem with Russian Literature in college. I think I need to listen to the audiobook. After that, I will have a better understanding of the book.
I received a copy of the ebook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I received a copy of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore courtesy of Netgalley. I rated it four stars because Goodreads does not allow half stars. Otherwise I would have rated it 3 1/2 stars.. It is a very well written historical fiction novel. The novel is set in the mid-19th century. The main character, who is charged in a double murder, is Lucy Blunt. Lucy tells her story and it is left to the reader to decide her guilt or innocence. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, unreliable narrators, and mystery will enjoy The Companion.
Maren and Kaia live in the mountainous outer reaches of the Zefed. When the emperor's Seers come to their village, Maren and Kaia are forcibly parted. In order to get Kaia back, Maren must start a journey that helps reestablish the bond between the humans who first settled the mountains and the dragons that lived there. There are prophecies, dragons, soldiers, hidden identity, and a lot of action. I believe it will have a sequel. The book releases at the end of July. I will be pre-ordering the Kindle and Audible versions.
I received an advance review copy through Netgalleys.
The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War by Antonio J. Mendez, Jonna Mendez
Life is often more fascinating than fiction. An excellent example is to compare any spy movie set in Moscow with The Moscow Rules by Antonio J. Mendez and Jonna Mendez. The complexity of living and working in a constant state of danger was incredible. Although the Mendezes were not assigned to Moscow, they were directly involved in designing the tools that allowed Americans to work without the KBG observing them.
Each chapter begins with one of the rules, although there are many that are not used in the book. The Introduction starts with this rule, "Don't harass the opposition." An American was attacked by an FSB (KBG's newest form) member who tried to stop him by physically assaulting him. The author ties the aggression of the Russians in 2016 to the Soviets in 1986.
There were two aspects of this book that stayed with me. One was the way the authors show how it is really a team and not one person interacting with the opposition. Everyone is essential to have success. The other aspect was that the Russian FSB is using the Soviet playbook updated with today's technology. I highly recommend The Moscow Rules to anyone who is interested in international relations, the US/Russian relationship, and/or the cold war.
I received a copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I recently read The Death Chute by Ambrose Stolliker courtesy of Netgalley. It was a quick read, less than two hundred pages. The main character, Jake, develops and produces reality television shows in Hollywood. He is home in Vermont to settle his mother in a nursing home. Sophia has dementia. The nursing home he selects is a building that was a TB sanitarium. What develops is a collision between the old and the new with a mystery at the heart of it. The book touches on a racial theme (quality of care dependent on race) and letting self-interest stop to ensure other's survival.
The book could have been much better. I think if the author had removed the racial theme and just concentrated on the old sanitarium, there was more than enough horror to be had. As I said it was a quick read but not a satisfying one. None of the characters were fleshed out enough to feel real. The location too could have had better descriptions of its grounds and rooms. The book was a missed opportunity in many ways.
The Trial of Lizzie Borden written by Cara Robertson and narrated by Amanda Carlin. It is a fantastic book. It is a nonfiction book covering the trial of Lizzie Borden for the murder of her father and stepmother. What sets this book apart from all others is the content. It does not contain any current historian's interpretation of events. It is a detailed account of all the events told through the words of those who were there. Newspapers contain reports that keep the public enthralled. The Borden Murder trial was a huge newspaper seller. Everything, from neighbor's statements to the police to a discussion of what Lizzie was wearing, filled the front pages of newspapers from Boston to New York and beyond. It was fascinating to see how the events and people were viewed. Anyone interested in Lizzie Borden's story will find this audiobook enlightening. Amanda Carlin is a very good narrator. She handles the 19th-century language without problems and speaks very clearly. I will listen to The Rial of Lizzie Borden again and soon. It contains so many interesting points. I received a copy of the audiobook from Simon and Schuster Audio in exchange for an honest review.
The Other Boleyn Girl, written Philippa Gregory and narrated by Vanessa Kirby, is a wonderful audio version of the popular book about Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn. The narration is wonderful. Ms. Kirby does an excellent job with voices and emotion. The story is captivating and heart rendering. It focuses on Elizabeth Boleyn, Anne's sister. Elizabeth's mother (another Elizabeth) is part of the Howard family. The Howard's are led by the Duke of Norfolk who considers women as pawns to further the family's fortunes. The main plot of the book is the Duke's plan to get a Howard to capture the King's interest and bestow gifts on the family. But the king is Henry VIII and he is not a tame king. The book explores the tragic aspects of Elizabeth's life and her relationship with her sister Anne. A note about historical accuracy: you will find very little here but that does not make the story any less enjoyable. I received a copy of the audiobook from Simon & Schuster Audio in exchange for an honest review.
I won a paperback copy of The Familiars ARC through a Goodreads contest. It took me a while to get to it. When I began it, I was drawn in very quickly. I enjoyed the book so much I purchased the Audible audiobook also. The book takes place in the early years of the 17th century in an England full of change. After decades of Elizabeth Tudor, that dynasty has come to an end and the new dynasty, the Stuarts, is led by a very different kind of King. Witch hunts are raging through England under King James I's direction. As usual, women are the target. Any woman who does not fit the societal norms or works as a healer or midwife is likely to fall under suspicion. Fleetwood Shuttleworth is pregnant and afraid she will lose this baby as she did the previous three. Her husband Richard needs an heir. When Fleetwood meets a young lady in the forest who says she can help her to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, Fleetwood brings her home with her. The book does a good job of looking at the motivations of the men who hunt the witches. The book and the audiobook are very good.
When Christ and His Saints Slept is one of the best historical fictions. It tells a story based on history but adds the author's thoughts on the characters' motivation. This takes place during what the contemporaries called The Anarchy. Henry the first's only son, ,William Adelin, died in 1120 during an attempted channel crossing, leaving only his daughter Maud as heir. To ensure the succession, Henry made all his nobles swear to accept Maud as their ruler. Then he married her, against her will, to Geoffrey of Anjou to protect the southern end of his realms. Maud was not in England when Henry died but her cousin, Stephen of Blois, was. So begins a civil war that spans about 8 years and eventually hits every corner of the Kingdom.
When Christ and His Saints Slept takes a neutral position on both claimants to the throne and their supporters. Both are shown to have weaknesses that lost them support. Penman also gives the reader/listener a wide range of other characters both historical and fictional.
The audiobook is over 36 hrs long. Anne Flosnik is a good narrator. The production values are good. Most Americans think of England as having had only one Civil War in the mid-1600s. The Anarchy was the first civil war and the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty.
I received a copy of When Christ and His Saints Slept courtesy of Tantor Media in exchange for an honest review.
Deadwood A Novel by Peter Dexter and narrated by J. Rodney Turner was a very interesting audiobook. Let me start by saying J. Rodney Turner has an incredible voice and I would listen to him narrate the phone book. He did a great job of creating distinctive voices for the main characters.
Deadwood is historical fiction. Not being a historian, I cannot speak to how accurate it is. If you are looking for the characters of HBO's Deadwood series, they are here but not the same as in the series. Each, the HBO series and the novel by Peter Dexter, interpret the characters in different manners. The story still involves Deadwood being a very dangerous and evolving town. The main characters are well defined. The character that the book follows is Charlie Utter beyond the death of his friend, Wild Bill Hickok. The author does a great job setting the scenes so that the reader/listener can picture them.
Warning - the language of the book has profanities. It also has several offensive identifications toward individuals or groups. Both the profanities and the offensive terms are part of the language usage of the time.
A copy of Deadwood was provided by Tantor Media in exchange for an honest review.
I won a Kindle copy of A Boy and His dog at the End of the World through a Goodreads contest. I enjoyed reading it. It will be published in late April. The book takes place after an event has overtaken the earth. It is called The Gelding. It is exactly what it sounds like, a plague of sterility. No one knows how it started. It affects animals besides man. Griz is a young man who lives with his parents, a brother, a sister, and his two dogs on a small island off the west coast of Scotland. Since the book isn't published yet and I do not want to inadvertently share any spoilers, let me say if you like post-apocalyptic stories, you will enjoy this one. Anyone who enjoys a good story will enjoy A Boy and His Dog at the end of the World.
I really enjoyed One Way, the first book is S. J. Morden's Frank Kitteridge series. I purchased No Way, book #2, the day it came out. I just finished it. So much action and surprising twists. Just excellent. It is very hard to comment on this book at all without giving away the major points of the first book. S. J. Morden and William Hope created another "cannot stop listening" audiobook that I truly enjoyed.
One Way was a fantastic book. Wonderful premise, a Complicated main character, so much action, and enough gray morality to staff a campaign for president. The main character Frank states several times, "Mars wants to kill you." But what is it is not only Mars trying to kill you? Where one mistake can cause your blood to boil off into the thin atmosphere. William Hope handles the narration perfectly. The voices are all wonderful. My favorite secondary character was Zeus. One Way is a wild ride and a fun one.
On Nov. 16, 2018, I wrote a review for Bookish First on a First Impression (except about 100 pages) of The Haunted by Danielle Vega. After reading the excerpt I rated it 5 stars and wrote:
Hendricks is a high school junior who was from Philadelphia. Something went horribly wrong there and her family moved to a small town north of NYC. What that something is, the reader doesn't know yet. Piece by piece it is being revealed. Her parents bought an old house to fix up in this idyllic little town. If they had spent a little time googling their new address, they would have found their house has a name, Steele House, and a very nasty reputation. As Hendricks tries to settle into her new school, her "new" house, and make new friends. She is haunted by whatever happened in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, that is not the only thing haunting her.
Now having finished the book, I must downgrade the rating. Hendricks' mystery of what happened in her previous school is somewhat underwhelming. Many of the secondary characters are tropes. The popular beautiful girl who rules the social pyramid of the high school. The outcast boy who dresses all in black skips more school than he attends, and is antisocial. Hendricks' parents barely make an impression in the book.
The book is fun (for a horror/haunted house fan) until the last fifth of the book. Then the story starts to unravel. I do not want to reveal any spoilers but the end was very predictable. This is the first of Ms. Vega's work I have read. I do hope to read another in the future.
Expected publication: June 4th 2019 by Razorbill
I won a copy of The Haunting in a raffle at BookishFirst.com . This is an honest review.
Meddling Kids is not for kids, meddling or otherwise. Edgar Cantero writes and Kyla Garcia narrates a delightful, easter egg filled, action-packed story that had me from the first chapter. If you replace Scooby Doo and the gang with the Summer Detective Club, you have the foundation the story is built on. Instead of a Great Dane named Scooby Doo, the book has a Weimaraner named Sean. Many rubber masks were pulled off and many traps set by the Summer Detective Club until their last case in 1977. Something went wrong and the Club never solved another mystery. Now, adults, the Club must reunite to fix what was broken in the last case, namely each individual in the club.
The book never takes itself seriously. It has fun and wants you to have fun too. Some of the delights are the names of the traps they engineered and consider using again. The river is the Zoinks River. The language is colorful. The F-word and many of its derivations are included. Two of my favorite quotes that I think illustrate the general attitude of the book are:
“Peter sat as powerless as an overwhelmed female character in a Victorian drama.”
“The novelty of bare rock walls instead of concrete had become old at the speed of SNL material.”
Kyla Garcia does a great job narrating. Ms. Garcia handles several accents, voices that are alarmed, dispirited and determined. I enjoyed her narrating and will look for her in future purposes.
Meddling Kids is a love letter to those of us that watched Hanna Barbera cartoons on Saturday morning. Even if you are younger than the original Scooby Doo program, you will enjoy this very funny book.
I checked out the audiobook through Overdrive at the Lane Library in Oxford, OH.
The Providence Rider is the fourth book in McCammon's Matthew Corbett series. Matthew is astounded to find his name painted on walls near where buildings have been blown up. His latest refusal to Professor Fell was not graciously received. Matthew is told that the bombings will continue until the town is destroyed or Matthew accepts the professors "invitation" to visit him in the Caribbean. When Matthew decides he has no choice but to accept, he reluctantly sets out to board the ship. What Matthew finds in Professor Fell's domain is the nastiest group of villains. He must fulfill the professor's demand for help and survive the other guests. This book is part spy and part historical fiction. The Providence Rider is enjoyable but not as enjoyable as the previous books in the series. Edoardo Ballerini is a terrific narrator. He helps bring the story to life through his wonderful accents and distinct voices. This story had a huge range of accents.
I have recently begun reading books in the romance genre. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong was highly recommended by several members of a Facebook audiobook fans page. I thought if the romance angle was overdone or poorly written, at least there were werewolves. I needn't have worried. The entire book, romance, and werewolves is fantastic. The action is often fast-paced. When it is not, it is weighted with dread and foreboding waiting for the next strike to come. The main characters were enjoyable although some of them had anger management issues. The villains ranged from intelligent to evil idiots. The sexually explicit passages are just a few and are part of the story, not just gratuitous sex added. Aasne Vigesaa does a nice job narrating. She handles the male and female characters well as well as a multitude of accents including Ontario, Louisiana, and New York to name a few. As long as I can find books of this quality, I will continue reading in the romance genre.
Note: There is a consent issue but it does not involve sex.
I was excited to see what Peter Clines's next book in the Threshold series was. I really enjoyed 14 and The Fold. As I began seeing reviews for Dead Moon, I was dismayed by negative reviews with references to zombies. I downloaded it to my Audible account and started listening. I finished the audiobook in less than twenty-four hours. The connection between the first two Threshold books and Dead Moon is not revealed until the last third of the book but it is incredibly fun and exciting getting there. The book takes place over two hundred years in the future so the cast of characters is all new. I loved Cali and Jake and the rest of the crew from Osiris Cemetery. The mayor of Luna City reminded me what my 7th-grade teacher said when I gave her my book report on Jaws, "The shark isn't the monster." There are several monsters in this book, including very original zombies. Ray Porter's narration is terrific. He gives distinct voices to the characters. He also conveys the fear, frustration, and humor. Keep in mind that in Dead Moon, the moon itself is trying to kill you, not just the zombies.
The Vampire of Maple Town was an enjoyable read. The stories of Charlie, Vincent, Skat, Sally, and Alice are tied together in a web of lies. Not everyone knows they are not who they think they are. Charlie is the protagonist. He is a nice boy who longs for life beyond his confined existence. I think Kane McLoughlin will be an interesting author to follow. I see potential in The Vampire of Maple Town.
This book would be appropriate for high school or mature middle school students. The deaths in the story are not graphic in nature or detailed. I won a Kindle copy through a Goodreads contest. I am not a professional reviewer, author or honestly anything. I recommend giving The Vampire of Maple Town a read to form your own opinion.
R. C. Bray is a fantastic narrator. I have listened to several of his books including Burnt Offerings, The Elementals, Gilded Needles, and one of my all-time favorites, The Martian. He does an excellent job of creating discernable characters. His females are never falsettos. They sound natural. Bray’s accents are incredibly good. He excels at communicating emotion including snark, which is actually hard to pull off. There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.
Last year I listened to The Hospital: The FREE Short Story: The First Mountain Man Story. It is a short listen that can be listened to at any point but chronologically between book 1 and 2. It got me interested in the series. When I was given the opportunity to review Mountain Man: Prequel for Audio Book Reviewer (https://audiobookreviewer.com/), I started listening immediately.
Gus makes a living as a house painter. He lives in a small town in Canada near the Bay of Fundy in southeastern Canada. Gus lives a simple. He hopes to make a life with his girlfriend Tammy. He tolerates and encourages his young coworker Toby. Life is going on in a normal trajectory until it takes a sharp, violent turn.
As a virulent strain of flu starts to hit the area, Gus’s boss signs Gus, Toby, and another coworker Gord up to paint the manager’s office at the local Mollymart. The manager’s office is on the 2nd floor overlooking the sales floor. While not thrilled to be working from 7p to midnight after working all day, Gus is glad to make the extra money. As the painters start their work, the world crashes quickly outside.
Individual’s dying from the flu strain are resurrecting as mindless, eating machine zombies. Individuals bit by zombies die and become zombies. One of the stricken runs into the store screaming. What follows is a wonderfully constructed scene. The reader/listener has a good idea of what is happening outside. The people in the store do not. They are confronted with a raging man who does not respond to any type of deterrent and argues with how to proceed. Even though no one can reach 911, the people still are unaware of how violent and dangerous it has become outside the store.
Mountain Man: Prequel is an exciting start to a different take on the Zombie genre. The Canadian location adds some subtle tweaks to the known geography of American towns and cities. The book tracks Gus and friends over the first few days of the outbreak. No explanation is given for the dead rising. Honestly, Gus does not have time to consider anything other than surviving minute to minute. A good story paired with an excellent narrator creates an accessible and exciting entry into a new series.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. This review and many others can be found at https://audiobookreviewer.com/ .
Rock, Paper, and Scissors. It is not just a game anymore. The triplets all have their different dreams but Paper is the one with the biggest dreams. She wants to go to Mars. She makes her own rockets from scraps and for homemade contraptions, they fly well. Paper has read everything she can find on space and Mars. She should be in college but instead, she is in Fill City, a massive dump on what used to be Staten Island. She cannot leave.
Along comes a contest for participants to compete on TV to win the only open seat on a trip to Mars. Millions of red scarab pendants are sold. Only thirty contain the winning message. The contest is sponsored by Zach Larson, the richest man in the world. Think Bezos and Musk but much cooler and actually in touch with the lives of common people. The contest will be like all reality shows, the lowest in each round goes home.
Paper just has to find a winning scarab, escape Fill City, get to California before the competition starts and win the competition. All without anyone finding out that she is a Filler. Easy peasy, right?
Khristine Hvam is a marvelous narrator. Her snark is so strong, she could have grown up in my family. This is the first title I have listened to narrated by her and it will not be the last.
My husband, who does not usually listen to audiobooks, joined me for the last 75% of this book and loved it. Andy approved - 5 Stars.
I would listen to it again. Repeat value - 5 Stars.
Marvelous narrator - 5 Stars
I won a copy of You're Going to Mars from the Dab of Darkness (https://dabofdarkness.com) and Rob Dirks, the author. I have written an honest review of the title.
Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History
Audiobook – Unabridged
Dr. Jeremy Brown (Author)
Holter Graham (Narrator)
Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)
Dr. Jeremy Brown has written an easy to read history of the influenza virus that reads like the best of detective fiction. His writing combined with Holter Graham's warm narration make a very approachable look at a fascinating and frankly terrifying subject. It is an audiobook that I will listen to again.
Many readers are acquainted with the Spanish Flu that killed millions in 1919. The Prologue tells the story of a flu victim, a healthy young woman, who almost died. Not in underdeveloped country and not in 1919. It was in the United States in 2013. Brown's book creates a very understandable link between the historic flu, the present strains, and what the future of the flu could be. Brown also educates us on historic flu treatments (enemas!) and recent treatments like Tamiflu.
Influenza will be a wonderful read for those who enjoy history, medical mysteries, as well as the economics of pharmacology. I enjoyed the writing style and the narration equally. I would be interested in other books written by Dr. Jeremy Brown and/or narrated by Holter Graham.
Jane Stanton Hitchcock's Bluff is a wonderful book. For me, it is reminiscent of the many Dominick Dunne books I read. It gives the reader a wonderful look at the lives of the 1% and how miserable they can be. Maud Warner is a wonderful character. She is a lady of what my mother's generation called, "a certain age." She lets us into her story when she walks into the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, shots a man, and walks back out unaccosted. Hitchcock writes this wonderful line, "Older women are invisible and we don't even have to disappear." The characters are well fleshed out, not just the main protagonist. The action is believable. Bluff is a very enjoyable read. I am looking forward to reading more of her work.
I won an e-book copy of Bluff from BookishFirst.com. I have written an honest review.
Finding John by Andrew Serra was heartbreaking, terrifying, and a great piece of investigative reporting. Serra was a member of the New York Fire Department's Red Hook Engine 279 and Ladder 131. My brother who is retired from the FDNY also served in that house on 9/11. He felt the book was important enough to send copies to all his siblings (and there are a lot of us).
Serra tells the story of his experience at Ground Zero, not only on 9/11 but also in the months that followed. Most people are aware of the events surrounding the fall of the Twin Towers but few have heard the story of the months of work on the Pile. Every day for many, many months after firefighters were detailed to work on the Pile. Many also worked it on their time off. Serra describes finding a fellow fight fighter, John Tipping II, in the debris. Tipping was a member of Engine 54 and Ladder 4.
When the towers collapsed, so did much of the structure around them. Ladder 4 was parked next to one of the buildings. As the buildings collapsed so did the sidewalks around them talking Ladder 4 with them. Ladder 4 come to rest, mostly intact, several levels down on the shopping mezzanine. A prominent writer who spent the year following the attacks with the engineers and construction crews made the claim that looting had occurred by firefighters before they went in to save those they could. He based this claim on someone telling him that pairs of new jeans had been found in Ladder 4. Every single member of Ladder 4 died on 9/11 and now their names were being tarnished by hearsay.
Serra does a fantastic job of investigative journalism. He proves with eyewitness testimony plus the help of Charles Pelligrino, a scientific writer that the members of Ladder 4 went directly to their deaths that day. They did not stop for anything, even the realization that they probably would not survive. This book is a must read. Not only for the investigative journalism but also for the eyewitness view of the aftermath of 9/11. Serra shares his experiences working the pile, attending many of the 343 funerals, watching FDNY's members contract the illness from working the pile. I highly recommend Finding John. I would suggest to Serra that he and his publisher look into having an audiobook made. With a good narrator, Finding John can find a whole new audience.
Armistice is a wonderful sequel to Amberlough. It picks up the story after the powder keg has blown and the characters have each run to where they thought was safe, if only for a moment. Although they are scattered, the thread that binds them is their wish to return to Amberlough City in Gedda. In order to do that they will have to oust the Fascist regime that has taken Gedda to add to its "One Nation". With this many characters in many locations getting the gang back together involves a lot of adventures and narrow escapes. Looking forward to the concluding volume of the series.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.