This is the third book in The Scattered and the Dead series. I enjoyed this one as much as the last two. It advances the storylines of several characters. It follows Fiona, Lorraine, Ray and Marissa. There are very brief sections with Baghead and Decker. Ray, Lorraine, Baghead and Decker are all characters from previous books. As with previous books, the timeline is fluid. One section may take place before the event while others take place weeks or months after the event. As you come to know the characters, it is not hard to follow.
Book 0.5 and Book 1.5 are much shorter compared to Book 1. They are not bridge books by any means. Each book is a contribution to the series, just as much as the larger Book 1. As I mentioned in earlier reviews, the universe is unique. The Scattered and the Dead universe is more real. Possibly because it is told from many points view, possibly because the characters are from such different backgrounds and personalities.
One thing I really like is how the authors break the sections up. The narrative switches between the characters. It is not one large section narrated by one character followed by the next big section by another character. Instead, it is a series of very well done cliffhangers for each character. For instance, in one of Ray’s sections, the last sentences are “And then the screaming started again. Somewhere ahead of me.” Just as you are dealing with that you are thrown into Fiona’s latest situation. It really is very good writing and excellent pacing.
The Scattered and the Dead, Book 1.5 is narrated by the authors, Tim McBain and L. T. Vargus. All the books in this series so far have had excellent production values. The clear strong voices of the narrators, who happens to be one of the authors, L. T. Vargus and Tim McBain, do a fantastic job narrating the book. They both have pleasant voices to listen to. Perhaps having authored the book helped in their ability to narrate it so well. They did not seem to be reading it as much as telling it, as one survivor after another shared their with the listener. It makes for a very intimate narration.
I highly recommend The Scattered and the Dead series. If you have not started it yet, now is the perfect time.
I received a copy of The Scattered and the Dead Book 1.5 from Audiobook Reviewer in exchange for an honest review.
The Shadow Land A Novel
by Elizabeth Kostova
Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
Pub Date 11 Apr 2017
Courtesy of Netgalley
The Shadow Land is a mystery, a thriller and a love story but not a traditional love story. It is a love for a land, it’s people and it’s history. Beginning The Shadow Land I knew a little bit about Bulgaria, thanks to Ms. Kostova’s 2005 book The Historian. But I knew nothing about it’s mid twentieth century history. I did not know there was a King who allied his country to Hitler and left them to suffer one brutal dictatorship and ideology after another. Kostova brings this history to life through the people who lived it and the people who struggled to rebuild.
Alexandra is a woman in her mid-twenties who has been marked by tragedy over ten years before. Her brother disappeared the day after his sixteenth birthday on a family hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. His body was never found. Alexandra had been close to him until shortly before his disappearance. Looking back she tries to find a reason, was he depressed, was it an accident but all she finds are more reasons to blame herself. She travels to Bulgaria, a country her brother dreamt about seeing, to teach and to try to move on.
The taxi from the airport deposits her at a main point in the city of Sofia. Alexandra is in the process of getting another taxi to her hostel, a low cost living arrangement until the school year begins and she receives a salary, when a good deed does indeed get punished. Trying to help an elderly couple and their son into another taxi, she accidently ends up with one of their bags mixed with hers. As her taxi begins to drive her away, she realizes the mistakes. The other family is gone and the bag Alexandra has contains someone’s ashes in an elaborately carved urn.
Alexandra’’s taxi driver, who she calls Bobby, offers to help her return the ashes. What follows is an odyssey, that covers the length and breadth of Bulgaria and it’s history. As Kostova did in the Historian, the story is split into different time periods and narrators. The voice of the dead man whose ashes are now in Alexandra’s possession are told in his journal. Other people speak for him, to tell his story and how it is so entwined with the history of Bulgaria.
The books is at it’s best when it takes these magical side trips into the murky past. A blind woman over one hundred years old tells of when the Ottoman’s were finally driven from Bulgaria. The dead man’s sister-in-law tells of a serious suitor who quietly wins the family over with his courtesy and obvious adoration for Vera, his future wife. The survivor of a inhuman prison camp where the inmates do not know their crimes. The author saved a wonderful surprise for the last quarter of the book. It made me love the characters all the more.
I recently reviewed Katherine Anderson’s Prisoner of the Asylum. The next book in the series is Slave. I love Abbey and the series that is created around her. I love the story settings. While the Asylum book was a little bit cooler, just cause you know it was in an asylum, Slave is still a very good book.
In the first chapter of Slave, Abbey and Luke set out to explore a mill, which ultimately does not pan out. She and Luke are great because they are friends, no romantic involvement, just friends. I like their comfort with each other. They a an abandoned cottage after getting tips from their urban exploration community. Once there they literally fall into a surprise in an undocumented tunnel. The tunnel has a few surprises of its own. There is also a paranormal aspect to this book. I cannot really give detail without giving away plot points.
As in the first book, the descriptions are wonderful. They are lush in detail and create an atmosphere that the reader can feel. There is a paragraph is Chapter 13 about a town at the bottom of the quarry which is just wonderful to read: “It was such a beautiful piece of water but it was cloaked in so many dark and disturbing stories.” Abbey’s parents are introduced in this book and help the reader connect with some of her backstory. It helps the character develop in the reader’s mind.
Why is Abbey finding paranormal situations with her urban explorations? She describes it as, “something inside me that called to them, and let them know that I was someone who could understand them.” I am hoping a future book can explore why that is. The ending is very special. One of the best endings I have read in awhile in terms of one or two sentences giving a world of information. I look forward to continuing to read about Abbey’s explorations, both urban and paranormal.
I enjoyed this book. The main character, Abbey, is involved in Urban Exploration as a hobby. More than a hobby actually; it is a passion. Abbey got into Urban Exploration through her grandmother. She is accompanied on her adventures is her friend Luke.
The book spans two different time periods, World War II and the present. Ms. Anderson does a wonderful job of creating a parallel between World War II and the war in the mind of a mentally ill person. The mood setting in both time periods is great. For example, one phrase really illustrates the panic and claustrophobia of the time, “Trapped in a basement with a group of mental patients while bombs rained down aboveground”.
The story that takes place during World War II is about a young woman named Isabella. She is committed by her father when she is twenty-five years old. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, possibly inherited from her mother. It ties to the modern story when Abbey finds Isabella’s records during an exploration of Westwood Asylum for the Insane which has been abandoned for decades. What catches Abbey’s attention is that Isabella’s records stop very suddenly. As Abbey and her exploration partner Luke continue their exploration of the Asylum and investigation into Isabella’s history, Isabella emerges, moving through a layer separating this plane from the next.
The book is well researched. In chapter six, there is a discussion of Walter Freeman that is fascinating and one of the most horrifying things I have ever read. That paragraph is equal to anything Stephen King has ever gotten me with. There are no words implying horror, no monsters jumping at you, no specific words that do it but arranging into those sentences in that paragraph is one of the most terrifying and unforgettable images I have ever encountered. And the author just slips it in there. No warning. Genius, just glorious genius. Thinking about it still gives me the creeps months later.
As I states earlier, Ms. Anderson has a wonderful gift in setting the mood. When talking about the morgue in the asylum she describes it as “the morgue, alongside the physically dead, not just the psychologically dead.”, evokes an emotion, a sense of dread, a feeling of those poor souls trapped in their own minds and in the asylum.
I previously enjoyed Ms. Anderson’s Hospital Hill. I am looking forward to reviewing more of her work.
White Winter (The Black Year Series Book 2)
by D.J. Bodden
Courtesy of author
In Black Fall, Book 1 of D. J. Bodden’s The Black Year Series, I was introduced to Jonas Black, a 16 year old whose life missed the turn at Albuquerque and ended up in a nameless circle of Hell. Jonas’s life unraveled when his father died and he discovered some very startling truths about the world and his place in it. I was introduced to vampires, werewolves, a zombie (or not) plus Jonas’s freaked out human girlfriend. Some of the individuals, no matter what species, were cool and some were just terrifying on the “I will eat your soul” scale.
When Book 1, Black Fall, ends Jonas is trying to cope with what the last few months of his life have dumped on him. It is a lot, much more than typical teen angst. White Winter, Book 2, picks up shortly after the end of Black Fall. Jonas is trying to settle into his new reality with it’s perks and drawbacks. He has a vision of a world in ashes that seems to point it’s skeletal finger at him as the cause. Who does he tell? Who does he trust enough to tell? As Jonas tries to make this decision, he and Kieran, his best friend, get sent on a road trip for Agency business. Nothing about the trip goes well and proves that their is a conspiracy to destroy Jonas, his mother, his friends and the Agency. Does Jonas try to stop them or will that fulfill the prophecy? If he doesn’t try to stop them, will that fulfill the prophecy? What is a sixteen year old boy supposed to do when he doesn’t know where to step or what to stay to avoid bringing about the events of his vision?
White Winter had as much action as Black Fall. There is great character development in the characters like Jonas, Eve, Alice and Kieran from the first book. There are new characters who range from “can you trust them” to “damn that’s freaky”. The pacing was steady and at times frantic. The battle/fight scenes are well written. They made sense and not, being anything of a military historian myself, the tactics seem realistic.
In my review of Black fall I said I would have no problems recommending it to anyone over eighteen and probably any mature high schoolers. I did read White Winter with my “mother” senses engaged and I feel that it would be fine for a mature teen just due to the violence. Parents should always read books first before they hand them over and know your child’s ability to separate fact from fiction. I would have had no problem handing Black Fall or White Winter to my son when he was eleven (and had already read The Lord of the Rings and everything Brian Jacques had written to that point).
I am eager to start the last book in the trilogy, Red Spring. Black Fall and White Winter do end with cliffhangers but also complete their particular story arc. I really appreciate authors who make sure they do complete the arc within the book. It gives it a satisfying ending but gives you a craving for the next course. I would highly recommend getting your hands on Black Fall and White Winter. I will review Red Spring as soon as I finish it. Not to belabor a point but this series would be fantastic as an audiobook with the right narrator.
Review Audiobook THE SCATTERED AND THE DEAD: A POST-APOCALYPTIC SERIES, BOOK 1 BY TIM MCBAIN AND L.T. VARGUS
When I reviewed the Audible version of The Scattered and the Dead, Book 0.5, I totally got lost in a new universe. The Scattered and the Dead 0.5 follows only one person Decker. The Scattered and the Dead Book 1 is a much larger cast and time period. The easiest way to illustrate this is to list the character’s names and where their stories start in Book 1:
Rex 68 days before
Baghead 9 yrs, 126 days after
Mitch 43 days before
Travis 44 days after
Erin 29 days after
Teddy 69 days after
Ray 3 days before
Lorraine 3 days before
As you can tell by the listing above, the book is not linear. It tells different people’s stories with very different starting points. For example, Baghead’s story begins over 9 years after the event while Mitch’s story begins 43 days before. This was the hardest part of the book for me, the chronology. My inability to keep the chronology straight was a very minor downside for me. The story was wonderful. There were characters like Erin and Mitch that I connected with. And then there were characters like Teddy that made me want to jump into the book and warn the other characters to avoid him at all costs. The ages of the characters vary also from children to middle age.
The situations that characters exist in are not static. Some characters are perpetually moving, either for foraging or for unknown reasons. Some are hunkered down and just trying to survive for as long as they can. The undead are not the worst monsters in this book. I think the authors do a great job of painting the human monsters in vivid colors. In fact, I can readily visualize some of those human monsters living here in the United States, now, without the apocalypse to create them.
As I said in my review of Book 0.5, the authors have created a post-apocalyptic universe that feels different than many of the other I have read (and I have read many). If you like the post-apocalyptic genre, this is a great series. Even if you are not a zombie fan, you will still like this series. The zombies are only one part of what drives this book.
The Audible version of Book 0.5 was fabulous and so is Book 1 also with excellent production values. The clear strong voice of the narrator of Book 0.5, who happens to be one of the authors, also narrated Book 1 with the other author, L. T. Vargus. Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus did a fantastic job narrating the book. They both have pleasant voices to listen to. Perhaps having authored the book helped in their ability to narrate it so well. They did not seem to be reading it as much as telling it, as one survivor after another shared their story with the listener. It makes for a very intimate narration.
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
Please find this complete review and many others at Audiobook Reviewer
Calling All Angels ((The Shadow Council Case Files #1)
by John G. Hartness (Goodreads Author), Melissa Gilbert (Editor)
Courtesy of John G. Hartness
Calling All Angels takes place in the same universe as the Quincy Harker Demon Hunter Novellas. The main character is Joanna (Jo) Harrison descends from an American Legend, a man of mythical strength, John Henry. Not only has Jo inherited John’s strength, she also has his hammer. Jo has returned from helping Quincy stop Hell on Earth from happening in Atlanta. But home holds it’s own battles and challenges.
Jo lives with her elderly mother, Cassandra, and her young daughter, Ginny. Jo is a single mom, working by day as a freelance editor to support her family. She is working as a cage fighter at night. The money is great. She always wins due to her great strength. But her main reason for putting herself through the brutality of the fighting is to complete the task Quincy had given her. She is to return an item to a man. The item is a sword. The man is an archangel. Easy peasy. Or not. As usual in the Harker universe, nothing is easy. The man does not know he is an archangel, he wants nothing to do with the sword and there is a really nasty demon that wants the angel and the sword.
Calling All Angels is a fun read. As with the Harker series, the story has intriguing characters. The backstory on Jo adds more facets to a character I already liked. This is the first in a new series. I am hoping that each novella will feature a different member of the Shadow Council as I am very interested in learning the backstory on each of them. If you have enjoyed the Quincy Harker novellas or any of Mr. Hartness’s other series, I highly recommend Calling All Angels. It has the makings of another great series to get hooked on.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
by D.J. Bodden
Pub Date 10 Apr 2015
When is a vampire not a vampire? When is a werewolf not a werewolf? Or a zombie not a zombie? D. J. Bodden’s Black Fall is a fast paced read where nothing is what it seems and sometimes that is really bad. Jonas Black is a 16 yr old whose life begins to unravel when his father dies. The funeral is at night. His mother breaks open the urn and claims it is not her husband because she can tell “human” ashes. Poor Jonas is about to spend the next few months constantly thinking, “Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.”
Black Fall is a supernatural mystery built around a teenager, who used to have normal teenage problems until he found out the truth about his parents, himself and the world. The beings that populate the book were fascinating. Different than the normal run of the mill supernaturals. I did have some confusion about the power structures in the different species as well as Jonas’s existence. I am not sure if more of this will be dealt with in the next three books (Black Fall is the first of a projected four book series). It was an enjoyable read that I obtained from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review. I would love to hear it as an audiobook read by someone like James Foster (hint, hint author). I would have no problems recommending it to anyone over eighteen and probably any mature high schoolers. I would have to reread it again with my “mother” senses engaged before I would go any younger. I will be looking forward to picking up the sequel when my library gets it. And seriously Mr. Bodden - Audiobook - James Foster.
The Mammoth Book of the Mummy
by Paula Guran
Diamond Book Distributors
The Mummy. What does that noun, “Mummy”, conjure in your mind? In my very strange mind, I get side by side pictures. One is the mummy I saw in the Smithsonian when I was in 7th grade (many, many years ago). The other is of the fantastic, wonderful Boris Karloff so very expressive while wrapped in linen. The new mummy movies have not changed that second image for me.
When the reader thinks about mummies in literature, the reader has to put effort into it. There just are not a plethora of mummy stories, not like vampires, werewolves or zombies. That may be because not many writers tried to work with them. Thank goodness Paula Guran collected nineteen short stories that expand and twist the typical mummy in such a way that while preserving the time honored concept allows a creative spin that leaves the reader hanging on for dear life.
The authors and stories in the book are:
* That I May Speak (Introduction to collection), Paula Guran - Guran does an excellent job of navigating the world of mummies both in film and literature.
* “Private Grave 9”, Karen Joy Fowler
* “The Good Shabti”, Robert Sharp - This story cuts between Ancient Egypt and the not too distant future. The sense of dread builds in both ages until there is a clash that I did not see coming. Great story.
* “Egyptian Revival”, Angela Slatter - This was one of my favorites. Imagine a strong, feminine Private Investigator in the Ancient Egyptian religion is proven to be real. Antiquities are now not just collectibles, they are possible gateways to immortality. A fun story. I will be adding the author to my list of new authors to check out.
* “The Queen in Yellow”, Kage Baker - Mummies and time travel. Oh and cyborgs.
* “On Skua Island”, John Langan - This one was creepy in a “they need to make this into a movie” creepy. Very good non-Egyptian mummy.
* “Ramesses on the Frontier”, Paul Cornell - I have read several books by Paul Cornell and he never disappoints. His Ramesses trip through the underworld is funny and unique and an excellent story.
* “The Shaddowes Box”, Terry Dowling
* “Egyptian Avenue”, Kim Newman - This one was really cool. I have read several of Kim Newman’s books involving his Diogenes Club. This story has that wonderful blend of supernatural and Scotland Yard. A very enjoyable story.
* “The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar”, Gail Carriger - My favorite of the collection. It does have a werewolf who isn’t, a mummy and a cat in the jar. It also has a character that I haven’t decided what he is and an author who I already put one of her books on hold at my local library.
* “The Night Comes On”, Steve Duffy - I enjoyed this one also. I will check out the author’s other work.
* “American Mummy”, Stephen Graham Jones - This was a good story set in the modern day southwestern USA.
* “Bubba-Ho-Tep”, Joe R. Lansdale - I did not see the movie that was based on this story. It did not really do anything for me but then again I am not an Elvis fan.
* “Fruit of the Tomb”, Carole Nelson Douglas - I loved this story. Having become a first time cat owner seven months ago, I can truly appreciate the worship of cats. Heart of Night is worthy of that worship.
* “The Chapter of Coming Forth by Night”, Lois Tilton & Noreen Doyle
* “The Mummy’s Heart”, Norman Partridge
* “The Emerald Scarab”, Keith Taylor
* “The Embalmer”, Helen Marshall - Not your typical mummy and two children I never want to cross paths with.
* “Tollund”, Adam Roberts
* “Three Memories of Death”, Will Hill - Another one of my favorites. A beautiful, touching story.
The Mammoth Book of the Mummy, which I received from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review, blew up the all my previous conceptions of what a mummy is. I discovered several new authors and broaden my imagination. I highly recommend The Mammoth Book of the Mummy. I hope to see other authors try their hand at this neglected beautiful genre.
I am addicted to Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter novellas. I am addicted to the books and audiobooks. I look forward to the latest release with as much anticipation as I previously looked forward to the Cadbury Easter chocolates. Each book continues to build on the previous in a way that very, very few series are ever able to do. The fact that this is Book 8 in the series and I am still deeply invested in the characters speaks volumes about the author's talent.
Quincy has meet up with his group in Atlanta where they believe the next Demonic Super Event will occur. It is up to Quincy and his groups to stop them. If you are not familiar with the Quincy Harker series, get yourself started as quickly as possible. They are well worth it. Quincy's fiancee Rebecca is joined by Gabby Van Helsing, Dr. Watson, Jo Henry and Adam. Adam does not care to use his father's last name. It has the potential to cause villages to form mobs armed with pitchforks and flaming torches. Quincy's Uncle Luke is also helping. If you are not familiar with Quincy's Uncle Luke, you should know that his name at birth was Vlad Tepes. Imagine the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Falcon's NFL team in a playoff game and Uncle Luke walking around in a Matty Ice jersey and Falcon's baseball cap. Not your parent's Dracula? No, Uncle Luke is even better.
As with the previous books, the humor is delightful. The humor never overshadows the mystery or terror that comes from Hell. It is an incredible balancing act to find the right combination and timing for the humor, mystery and terror. From Book 1 to Book 8 the quality of writing has remained very, very high. My interest has not flagged at all. In fact I am eagerly awaiting the next book.
Full Wolf Moon
by Lincoln Child
General Fiction (Adult)
Pub Date 16 May 2017
Courtesy Netgalley and Edelweiss
I have enjoyed Lincoln Child’s novels for years, both his solo works and those written with Douglas Preston. I was excited to see Full Wolf Moon available for an Advance Review Copy from both Netgalley and Edelweiss. I requested from both to double my odds of scoring a copy. What do you know? I ended up with copies from both.
Jeremy Logan is a professor of Medieval History at Yale in Massachusetts. He first appeared in Deep Storm published in 2007 as a minor character. He appeared again in a side role in 2009’s Terminal Freeze. Logan finally got a bigger part in the 2012 thriller The Third Gate. The Forgotten Room, published in 2015 was all his. It is also the only one of the four I had not read. Full Wolf Moon to be published in May 2017 is again built around Logan’s character. In addition to his day job as a historian, Logan moonlights (pun intended) as an enigmalogist or one who studies unexplained phenomena. It is in this capacity that he appears in the novels named.
Logan is in the Adirondack Mountains at an artist retreat. He is planning on spending several weeks cut off from distractions to finally finish a medieval history academic paper. The retreat has a good reputation and is hosting Logan as a historian, certainly not in his other capacity. The first night at the retreat, an old classmate from Yale arrives, now serving as a Ranger for the wilderness areas that comprise the Adirondacks. There have been several murders over the last few months in an area around Desolation Mountain (great name but not sure I would buy real estate there). The Ranger asks Logan to look into the murders as a favor to him as a friend. There is something “wrong” about the situation that the Ranger cannot quite put his finger on. Logan has to separate fact from fiction and study the myths of the isolated area to try to find answers. He also has to finish his academic paper and not attract unwanted attention to the artist retreat and be asked to leave.
Logan was an interesting character. One of the area residents, Albright, was also interesting. The rest of the characters were somewhat two dimensional, including the Ranger. I never really had a strong feel one way or the other for any of them. I figured out the villain as soon as he was introduced. By the time I reached the last quarter of the book, I knew the basics of how, who, where, why and when. So the ending was not a total surprise. It was an enjoyable read though I have enjoyed Child’s stand alone novels Utopia and Death Match more. I would recommend Full Wolf Moon as an enjoyable mystery. If you are looking for full out werewolf horror Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon is still the yardstick by which I measure.
Badasses The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden's Oakland Raiders
Author Peter Richmond
Narrated by Barry Abrams
Publication date Feb 7, 2017
Running time 12 hrs 27 min
Great football. Great teams. Great rivalries. Rivalries between teams, not individuals or coaches. Football for the sake of football, not for the obscene amount of money the owners and the NFL make or the outrageous amounts the individual players can make by jumping teams every time the cash register rings up a higher amount. “Ken Stabler put it, ‘you played for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back” This is the era the greatest Badasses of all time, John Madden’s Oakland Raiders, played in. The story, the characters (and what characters they were) and the atmosphere that created the Badass Raiders is told in loving detail by Peter Richmond, a lifelong Raiders fan.
There were so many unusual aspects of the Badass Raiders, the players who crashed on other teams but bloomed on the Raiders, an owner and head coach who were called by their first names, their larger than life personas on and off the field and most surprising of all the high percentage of very intelligent men with degrees in challenging majors from prestigious schools like Stanford. Yet they all created the perfect storm to create one of the best teams in the history of football. While Madden’s Raiders had one Super Bowl Ring, their winning percentages were higher than any other team of the era.
The first Super Bowl I remember watching was the 1977 Raiders vs. Vikings. My dad and I watched several Raiders games that year and I was captured by the Raider’s quarterback, Ken “The Snake” Stabler. The nickname “Snake” came from his ability to scramble long before it Wilson and Kaepernick were even conceived, literally. On August 17, 1980, I was in Houston for a week. I had the opportunity to see a preseason game between the now defunct Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints. The Oilers won 20 to 17 that day. I can remember nothing of that day except watching Stabler move. He was in the last five years of his career but the man was still the Snake.
Barry Abrams narrates Badasses with the joy of a football fan. He does a great job with various accents, from Al Davis’s Brooklyn tinged speech to the mellowed Alabama tones of Stabler. Abrams keeps the narration at pace with the writing. It is never monotone or over the top. The production quality is excellent.
I highly recommend Badasses. It is a much a joy to read as it probably was for the Badass Raiders to play. “As tight end Bob Moore, a Stanford guy, put it to me, summing up his Raiders years, ‘Seven days a week, it was as much fun as a human being could have and still stay alive.’”
The Shadow of What Was Lost: The Licanius Trilogy, Book 1
Written by: James Islington
Narrated by: Michael Kramer
Length: 25 hrs and 28 mins
Series: The Licanius Trilogy, Book 1
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Courtesy of AudFans on Facebook (@AudFansPage)
James Islington creates a very complex and complete universe in his Licanius Trilogy introduction, The Shadow of What Was Lost. I had not read the book so the audiobook was my first encounter with the author and this world. The three main characters the listener first encounters are Davian, Asha, and Wirr. All three are students at a school for the “Gifted”. In this universe, “Gifted” means they can use a type of magic. The three are good friends and support each other. Final exams are approaching. Asha and Wirr are sure to pass but Davian may fail. In this school failure not only means expulsion but being turned into a “Shadow”. Shadows are marked, physically with dark lines on their faces, and mentally, by having their memories of the school and what they learned there and their lives up to that day erased. They are the lowest of the low, scorned by all.
This is a world that has undergone a war within the last generation that caused the Gifted to be bound by laws not to use their gifts. It is a world with secrets from two thousand years ago and present, like who Wirr really is. Caeden, the other main character who joins the story later, also has secrets but they are hidden even from him. Finding out the truth for many of the characters, about themselves, others and their world may destroy them all.
Michael Kramer did a good job with the narration. He did not make the female voices irritating (a big plus in my book for male narrators). His male voices were good although a few were very hard to distinguish from each other. There are a lot of characters in the book so that is not necessarily the narrator's fault. It may be my own inability to hear as clearly as I did years ago. The accents he did were good.
I enjoyed The Shadow of What Was Lost. I will be getting the book from my local library to see what I may have missed in just hearing the book. Since there were so many unusual names, places, titles and designations, I might have not had a complete understanding of what I was hearing. I am planning on getting Book 2 when it is released in audio format. Book 1 was enjoyable and very different from other fantasy I have encountered. I would recommend James Islington’s The Shadow of What Was Lost: The Licanius Trilogy, Book 1 narrated by Michael Kramer.
A History of India
Author(s): Michael Fisher
Imprint: The Great Courses
CD - unabridged
Audio (19 CDs)
Product Number: GC0821
Released: Oct 12, 2016
Narrator/s: Michael Fisher
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc. by arrangement with The Teaching Company
I have had some experience with The Great Courses by The Teaching Company over the last ten or so years. I have had two DVD courses and several audio only ones. The majority of the course work fine in audio only with some exceptions like a course on the great works of art. I have not only learned a great deal from each course but have truly enjoyed them.
A History of India was offered as a review copy from Recorded Books. India, as a country, a culture and a people, has long fascinated since I received a copy of The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye for my 16th birthday. I have not really had the opportunity to experience any non-fiction looks at India. A History of India was an excellent learning experience and achieved my goal of familiarizing myself with all of India, not just the historical fiction India.
The course is taught by Michael H. Fisher, Ph.D., a professor of HIstory at Oberlin College. Professor Fisher spent time living in India, with shorter periods in Pakistan and Bangladesh.He has a true love for the subject matter and it comes through in his lectures. Since this is an audio course, I would like to mention that the sound and production quality are excellent. Professor Fisher has a pleasant speaking voice. His pronunciations of foreign terms are clear and distinct so the listener can truly catch the word. When the same word comes up later, it is not an unknown term. He really does an excellent job.
The course consists of thirty-six lessons of thirty minutes in audio format. Also included is a course guide in a pdf format. The course guide consists of a summary of each lecture, including some maps or photographs. The lecture summaries are rather more complete than normal summaries. Each lecture summary ends with a suggested reading list for those who want to explore more of the material covered in that lecture.
What I really liked about the course was the completeness of the material covered. The first lecture, “Earliest History of the Indian Subcontinent” covers India’s geographic history. One of the things my children learned early in their education was that history occurs where it does for a reason. There were mountains that formed a barrier. There was a river that allowed a civilization to rise. There were weather conditions that changed the land and how it could be used. All of these are very important factors in why history happens where it does. The first lecture helps the listener understand how the geography of the Indian subcontinent shaped what was to come.
The lectures continue with the migration of different peoples into the different areas of India. Literature and religion are not neglected but have several lectures dedicated to them. Each Indian empire is discussed. Lecture twenty-three begins the exploration of the influence of European Countries. The European conquest, rebellions and eventual Indian independence are covered next. The last two lectures examine the modernization of India beginning in the 1960’s and the 21st Century from the perspective of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the surrounding nations). It really is a complete course on the history of India.
There are several ways to enjoy or utilize this course. The lectures can be listened to as time allows without reference to the course guide. The listener can read the lecture notes from the course guide and then listen to the accompanying lecture. This allows the listener to have familiarized themselves with the material similar to doing the required reading before a college class. The reader could also listen to the lectures and refer to the course guide only as they feel necessary. There is no wrong way to utilize the course.
I took thirty days to complete the course. I listened to one lecture per day, two if time allowed. I did read over the course guide for each lecture before listening to the lecture. This method required an hour at the most of my time per lecture. I chose to do it in this manner to make sure that I had a full understanding of what I was hearing. I am planning on listening to the course again in a more informal manner, probably starting in April. I learned quite a bit. I highly recommend A History of India in audio format. While driving, working at home or the office, the listener could enjoy an educational field trip to a country, culture and people unique in our world.