The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden
Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
Pub Date 10 Jan 2017
ARC courtesy of Netgalley
I am not as familiar with Russian folklore, history or literature as I should be. What I have read as an adult, I have enjoyed. As a student, I struggled with the patronymics as an addition to first and surnames. I felt like I needed a cheat sheet of who was who with all their individual possible names listed. As an adult, I have not had this issue because I have found authors like Katherine Arden whose character’s voices are so clear the name attached to them does not matter.
Katherine Arden takes us to Russian in the mid 14th century, before it is truly Russian. The Rus’ who eventually give the country it’s name, are a feudal country but under the thumb of the Khan. They pay yearly tribute to the current ruler of the Golden Horde and that ruler has a say in who rules the Rus’. The Russian Orthodox Church, the branch of Christianity that developed in Russia, was still relatively new, not as old as Christianity in Europe. The people who live far from the center of government, still have their old beliefs existing alongside their new Christianity. The old beliefs embrace supernatural beings of home and hearth, of forest and water, of stables and livestock. These beings accept small sacrifices, bread and salt, sometimes a few drops of blood, in exchange for helping to protect and nourish the land and its people. The clerics of Christianity hold these beings to be demons and warn the people against them.
The tension between the old beliefs and the new religion are central to The Bear and the Nightingale. This is a book about a country, a people and a family in the process of change. Change is rarely simple or peaceful or bloodless. Vasilisa (Vasya) is the central character. She is the bridge between the old and the new. Her mother, Marina, was the daughter of a Grand Prince in Moscow. Her mother was an unknown maiden who captured her father’s heart with one glance but had an air of the supernatural to her. Marina passes her gifts, given to her by her mother, to her last child Vasilisa and dies giving her life. From the beginning Vasilisa can see the guardians of the hearth and the yard, the one who protects the stable and the one of the lake who kills to live. She not only sees them, she speaks with them.
As she grows from a homely child into a striking young woman, the people of the village accept she is as strange as her mother was. There is never any danger about her until a priest from Moscow arrives. He arrives banished from Moscow because his icon painting brought him too much notice. Father Konstantin does not feed his new flock on the the good news, he feeds them fears of damnation, fears of demons in the guise of the old beliefs, he feeds them distrust of Vasilisa’s gifts. As the old beliefs diminish, an older evil awakens in the forest. It is waiting to be freed from its chains to unleash chaos, fear and death. But standing in it’s way are a young girl and an the oldest god.
I enjoyed this book immensely. I hope I did not give away any spoilers in my description of the book. The book is so rich in so many ways. The taste and textures, the weather and the fabrics, the light and the dark. All are described so beautifully. The characters are not entirely relatable in the modern sense but they are in the sense that we have all fought battles and found allies in the most unlikely of places. The language of the book is gorgeous. It flowed very easily. I would be interested in hearing this as an audiobook as I think it can only improve by correct pronunciations opposed to what my ignorant mind read it as.
My two critiques of this book are simple. The glossary should be at the front of the book immediately following the contests but before the epigraph, not at the end after the author’s note. I did not realize it was there until I finished the book. It would have been very helpful to have access to that information from the first page on. The second critique, and honestly I do not know how to solve this one, is I had difficulty understanding the politics that governed the characters’ lives. I did not have a good understanding of the hierarchy of the royalty. A Grand Prince is mentioned. How do the other Princes and the boyars, like Vasilisa’s father, fit in this power structure?
I would recommend The Bear and the Nightingale for anyone who wants to escape to a world where the old magic still lives and dreams have meaning. It really is an enchanted story.
by Vic James
Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
Pub Date 14 Feb 2017
My rating is 10 of 5 stars. Yes, it is that good.
Imagine walking into a museum and seeing a gorgeous medieval tapestry. The overall impact is overwhelming. Then you begin to notice the finer details. Strands of shining gold and silver catch your eye. You notice the less brilliant colors the silver and gold intertwined with. You begin to see patterns. You see how individual colors, whether vivid or muted, work together to create the whole work of art. I have just described The Gilded Cage by Vic James. It is a work of art.
I have read over 100 books this year, 2016, and The Gilded Cage is in the top 3. It is a finely crafted novel. It will be released in February 2017 along with an audiobook version. I suggest you pre-order both as soon as available. I read 99% of books in electronic version due to a movement disorder. Gilded Cage and any sequels will be ordered in hardback. These I plan to give to my future grandchildren when they are old enough.
There are two main families in Gilded Cage. The Jardines , the “haves’, and the Hadleys, the “have nots”. It is what they have or not that makes this novel so unique. The Jardines have “Skill”. The Hadleys do not. Skill is the ability to use magic. This is not the learn the spells and potions of Harry Potter magic. This is the intuitive, instinctual, primal magic that flows from the individual’s soul. Not everyone can do the same things with Skill and not everyone has the same strength of Skill.
The universe Gilded Cage is set in has always had Skill as a part of it. The difference in England begins when King Charles the first (and last) is not overthrown by puritans. He is executed by a powerful Skill member of the aristocracy. A new system of government is set up. Parliament with only Skilled members. A few token Unskilled are allowed as observers. Other countries have different systems. In the States United of America, the Civil War was fought. The North has outlawed Skill while the South continues to follow the same system as Britain.
But the worse change is the years of slavery forced on the Unskilled. Each Unskilled man, woman, and child must serve ten consecutive years in slavedays to the Skilled. That slavedays can be in a factory area working six days a week, with barely enough food, and no rights. It can be served on the estate of one of the Skilled. It can be served when one is young or old or anytime in between but it must be served. Whether in slavedays or before or after, the Unskilled have no rights. They can be beaten, raped, killed and all with no consequence to the Skilled who did it or to the Unskilled who did it under the direction of a Skilled. This is the world which the Jardine and Hadleys cross paths.
The characters are very well developed. Abigail Hadley is strong young woman who forgoes medical school to enable her family to serve their slavedays together. She fights for her family. She works the system. She does what she needs to do without relying on anyone, let alone need a man to save her. Luke Hadley, Abigail's brother, is a sixteen year old, who in the way of all teens, somehow never thought his slavedays would really arrive. He must grow up quickly to survive.
The Skilled are not simple characters either. The Jardine family has its heir in Gavar, it’s mystery in youngest son Silyen and it’s total shame in middle son Jenner who is Unskilled. The premier Skilled family contains a son who may be the most powerful Skilled of all time and one of only two Unskilled ever born to Skilled parents. Each Skilled family has the head of the family and it’s heir sitting in Parliament. What each member of each Skill family has is an agenda all their own. One of my favorite parts is when one Skilled character remarks to another, “Your allies aren’t always who you think they are, Miss Matravers. And neither are your enemies.”
The novel has an ironic sense of humor. “Father was planning a debate. Silyen was planning a resurrection. And Gavar was planning a wedding. There was so much wrong with that, Gavar didn’t know where to start.” It is this wonderful combination of characters and themes surrounded by damn good writing that makes The Gilded Cage a must read. It is subtitled Dark Gifts #1 which means there is more to come. I cannot wait.
I received an advance review copy of The Gilded Cage from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My sincere thanks to Netgalley and Vic James for one of the best reads I have had all year.
Hell Bound by Andrew P. Weston was an enjoyable, exciting and somewhat confusing novel. The title states it is “A novel from Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell Universe.” I was not familiar with this series but a little research shows the series began in 1986. It is a collection of novels and anthologies. Not having read any of the previous, I am not sure I missed anything. I will probably try to find some of the previous books. This novel seems complete until itself.
The plot of the novel revolves around the main character, Reaper, as in The Grim Reaper. Weston’s Reaper bares no resembles at all to Pratchett's Death in Discworld. He is evil incarnate and pretty happy about it. He seems to be Satan’s most trusted servant. He is endowed with powers and weapons others are not. When he is weakened, Satan does not hesitate to give him an extra burst of power to complete his task.
The Reaper is chasing down Frederic Chopin, Dr.Thomas Neill Cream, and Nikola Tesla, real people from history but definitely fictionalized in the afterlife. They are working on obtaining forbidden artifacts of power. Reaper has to call on his Hell Hounds, his personal group of enforcers and researchers, to help him. This is where I start to get confused. Some of the Hell Hounds are again people from history, some are not. I are not terribly familiar with any of them. The topography of Hell is confusing, too. Names are changed to give them a different connotation that they have in our world. There are areas of Victorian London next to Ancient areas. That is not as confusing to me as the structure of Hell. I cannot get, at least in the initial reading, the separation of worlds. Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are mentioned but there also seems to be other areas in between. I would benefit from a map or atlas.
That said, the book has some very funny touches. The Reaper is surprised by the knowledge his right hand man exhibit and questions where he picked it up. The answer is, “That’s down to National Gehennagraphicc, every Frightday evening on PBS.” While National Geographic and Friday are renamed to match Hell, PBS is left intact. The book ends with the story wrapped up but larger issues left open. There may be a sequel. I found it enjoyable and will try to find some of the other titles in the series as well as other books by the author, Andrew P. Weston.
Admit it. When you hear the name Nero, you think of the late great Peter Ustinov’s performance in the movie Quo Vadis. If you do not know what I am referring to, check out IMDB. The common view of Nero is he was (in no particular order) a madman, a murderer, a incestuous son, the persecutor of Christians, a third rate artist and a lousy husband. That image of Nero is exactly why Margaret George has written The Confessions of Young Nero. Ms. George states in her Afterward that she was “drawn to him as I sensed the vast gap between the perception of him and what he really was.” I am glad to wrote this book as it addressed the myth and the man.
I have read several of Ms. George’s previous books. One of my biggest personal library losses is the disappearance of my hardback copy of The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986) somewhere in the last two moves since 1988. She is a very talented writer who uses hard research as the skeleton she fleshes out in her historical fiction. The Afterward of this book explains in detail how Nero’s reputation was sabotaged and how she worked through many sources to find unbiased resources.
The book begins when Nero is three years old and his uncle Caligula tries to drown him. Great trust building exercise. The majority of the chapters are narrated by Nero. There are occasionally other narrators, such as his mother Agrippina, Locusta (the premier poisoner of Rome), and Acte, the freedwoman who loved him. These short changes of perspective help pull all the different strands of the story together. It is a complex story. Anything that deals with the Roman Empire is complex.
George’s Nero is not the full grown ruler of the largest empire in the world. He is a small child, raised by Greek slaves and freedmen. He is a child who comes to loved his step-father and watches as his mother destroys him to satisfy her own ambition. He is helpless and a pawn in the larger schemes of others. As he comes to terms with his mother’s ambitions of him, he still strives to be the best of what his step-father’s hopes for him were.
Nero’s slide from the his good intentions to his heavy handed rule is well documented. This is where George’s genius shines. She creates a full story, complete characters and believable environments. She is historical fiction at it’s best. This is the first part of a two part novel, the first time George has done this. I am looking forward to the next novel.
I first discovered the Robinson Crusoe series by EJ Robinson through Audiobook Blast which provided me with a copy of Robinson Crusoe 2244 (Book 1) narrated by Malik Williams in exchange for a fair review. That was in June of 2015. I found the story original and enjoyable. I enjoyed the audiobook so much I purchased the Kindle version to share with my husband.
Then I waited for Robinson Crusoe 2245 (Book 2) to be released. I finished it in October of 2015 and it was everything a sequel should be. It maintained the same high level of action as the first book. The familiar characters continued to grow and develop. New characters are introduced and enhanced the story. More information about the universe the series exists in, how it came to be, and the different cultures that inhabit it are revealed. I enjoyed it just as much as the first book.
Robinson Crusoe 2246 (Book 3) was released today, November 17, 2016. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review. As soon as the book downloaded into my Kindle app, I began devouring it.
The world in which the Robinson Crusoe series takes place is ours. But is our world after very bad events have occurred. I think that was one of the joys of the series, these little hidden easter eggs. As I read about this alien landscape, destroyed in cataclysmic events, I would suddenly recognize the remains of something from our time. It helped connect me to the book. I could visualize the book because I could visualize the bones of what lay beneath it. It was not a total alien landscape.
Robinson Crusoe is raised in privilege and luxury in a part of England that has managed to separate themselves from the barbarians and monsters at their gates. Book 1 details this life he leads and his family. It also details his abrupt exit from there and how he comes to the shores of what once was America. The first book does a marvelous job of laying the groundwork in the two major characters, Robinson and Friday, and the various remnants of civilization they encounter. Book 2 continues their story with even more adventures and adversaries. As I stated earlier, I enjoyed the second book as much as the first.
Then came Book 3, Robinson Crusoe 2246. I devoured it. I will be purchasing the audiobook, hopefully narrated by Malik Williams, as soon as it is released. Book 3 was great. It was “Holy Crap” and “Wow” good. Crusoe and Friday continued to grow and develop. I really enjoyed the time spent on the choices Crusoe was faced with. What was the right thing to do? For him and Friday? For others? For the remains of civilizations? He thought before he took serious action. It demonstrated a growth and maturity in the character. Friday’s character also grew, especially is how she came to understand that their different upbringings could be used to create a safe and rational middle ground for their lives. The villains in this book were just cool. So old enemies with new toys, some new enemies who were just out and out creepy and a new friend who may not be a friend after all.
I have enjoyed this series immensely. I think a trilogy is the right length for Crusoe and Friday’s story. But the author has created a world that begs to be written about. What caused the Great Rendering. How did people alive at the time, people like us, deal with it. The people who survive the initial cataclysm, how did they create new lives amidst terrible loss and suffering? Was the Great Rendering the same all over the world. How about scientist in Antarctica or astronauts on the International Space Stations, what happened to them? The Robinson Crusoe series has created such a rich world with so many other stories to be told. I cannot wait to see what the author does next.
Written by: Shana James
Narrated by: Shoshana Franck
Length: 6 hrs and 48 mins
Publisher: Shana James
This review first appeared at Audiobook Reviewer which provided a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
Deferred Consumption is listed in the Mysteries & Thrillers/Suspense. I would probably list it more in the Romance category. There is very explicit sex and language.
The narrator, Shoshana Franck, did a very good job. She was wonderful with the accents, including Russian, Texan and New Yorker. Her male and female voices were good. She did not have to moderate her voice register greatly to create believable male characters. I could tell which of her main female characters were speaking by the tone and slight change in pitch. I would definitely listen to another audiobook by her.
The book revolves around Heather, is an investment banker in New York City, working for an old established firm, run by a jerk, David. David is in the process of taking over the firm from his older father. While his father was ruthless in his day, he did not work with terrorist like David was. Brody, Heather’s fiancée, is a tennis pro. He is setting off on a tour so they are trying to spend some time together.
As this is an audio and I had not read the book itself, I am going to butcher the names so let me apologize in advance. One of Heather’s clients is a Russian, Evanof, who she describes as a psychopath. He pursues Heather with a total lack of finesse despite her lack of interest or her fiancee. There is a third man who is critical in the story, Evan, who is one of the wealthiest men in the world. I really cannot give more details without spoilers.
My problems with this audiobook all had to do with the writing and not the narrator. The narrator was great. The writing was not that good. I enjoyed the book for the wrong reasons. It made me laugh where I am sure the author never intended to elicit a laugh. For example, Heather’s boss, David, walks into her office. The author describes him like this, “He moved into her space like a termite after a delectable chunk of plywood, preening and strutting like a peacock.” I had to replay this and listen to it several times. I do not believe I have ever heard someone described as a termite and peacock in the same sentence. Hopefully, I never will again.
The sex scenes had descriptions that I could have done without. I am not a prude but the phrase, “Tickled her love flower”, made me laugh, not feel a sense of desire. Another phrase that made me laugh out loud was, “Plugging his member into her depths like it was a job”. I may have the last word in the sentence wrong because I was laughing and may not have heard it correctly. I do not read a lot of romance other than the author Jamie Shaw, so this may be my fault do to lack of exposure.
I need to be careful not to include any spoilers but the book ended abruptly. I remember my twelfth-grade Humanities teacher describing this technique as “Deus Ex Machina”, “a character or thing that suddenly enters the story in a novel, play, movie, etc., and solves a problem that had previously seemed impossible to solve” (definition credit to Merriam-Webster). As a novel, it was not satisfying. I found the characters two-dimensional. The story had subplots that never really developed. The writing never drew me in. If you like the romance genre, you may like this one. In any case, I feel the narrator Shoshana Franck is worth checking out.
By: Mercedes Lackey
Read by: Amy Landon
Series: The Hunter Series, book 2
Runtime: 10.2 Hours
Release date: 9.6.2016
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Genre: Fiction/Action & Adventure
Copy of audiobook provided by Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for honest review
I recently reviewed the prequel to Elite, Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter. It was fantastic. If you had not read Hunter first, I would suggest reading it first. But if you choose to jump right into Elite, there is some backstory provided but it may not fill in all the gaps.
Elite takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. The series of events that cause the apocalypse also caused a rift that allowed magic into our world. Hunter and Elite take place several generations after the cataclysm. The universe this series constructs is amazing. It is rich and complex. The characters are complex also. Joy, the protagonist of Hunter, has advanced to the Elite corp of Hunters who guard Apex City. With her new status comes perks and also added risks.
The mystery that lingered at the end of Hunter carries onto Elite. While some of it gets solved in Elite, it is still not solved by the end of the book. The character development is excellent. Joy is a believable young lady. She feels happiness and sadness and despair and desperation. Yet she continues to fight. I really like her. I like her and I like her realistic friendships, especially with Mark. This is a young adult novel so the romantic action is described as “making out” or kissing. This would be appropriate for a teen. It is also appropriate for adults. I am fifty-four and really enjoyed it. I am hoping for a the next book in the series to be released soon.
Amy Landon is an excellent narrator. I have enjoyed her narration of Hunter and Elite. She gives Joy a realistic voice. Her male voices are good. She does a nice job on the attitude of the characters. Retro, who is all confidence and attitude, is easily distinguishable from Archer, the mature and wise leader of the group, just by the way the narrator performs them. I really enjoyed Ms. Landon’s narration and will definitely check out other books she has narrated.
Heaven Help Us (Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Book 7) by John G. Hartness (Author), Melissa Gilbert (Editor)
If you are not familiar with the Quincy Harker Series, I will give you a moment to catch up:
Raising Hell: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Straight to Hell - A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Hell on Heels - A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Hell Freezes Over - A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Heaven Sent - a Quincy Harker Novella (Quincy Harker Demon Hunter Book 5)
Heaven's Door (Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Book 6)
Ok, all caught up now? This review will be dealing with the latest entry in the series:
Heaven Help Us (Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Book 7) by John G. Hartness (Author), Melissa Gilbert (Editor)
Please take note I have included the editor in the listing instead of just the author. Going forward, I will make a conscious effort to credit editors as well as authors. The work an editor does is often underrated and missed by the reader. The reader misses it because they are not moaning about the misspellings, bad punctuation, horrible grammar or terrible formatting. They are not moaning about it because thanks to the editor, they are not there. Now on to the book.
When last we saw Quincy, in Book 6, he was in a world of trouble and not just because he had fallen in love. Book 7 deals with the fall out of said love and the situation that ended Book 7. Do you have any idea how hard it is to write a book review without spoilers, people?
Quincy has to skip town, Charlotte, NC, and lay low for awhile. He chooses Lockton, Ohio for his hideout. Using an assumed name, he plans on laying low and trying to clear his name while Rebecca does the same in Charlotte. Quincy's plan is good and last all of five minutes. In his short time in Lockton, he meets a new friend, a werewolf who cares enough about his clothes to go nude before changing to his wolf form, a witch who thinks he is a demon and a demon who fixes football games. He is also a substitute social studies teacher for one day. That scene alone is the fulfillment of the fantasy of every substitute teacher who has ever dealt with a room full of moody, mouthy teenagers.
Not to let Quincy have all the fun, Rebecca has been introduced to new friends. Quincy's Uncle Luke and Abraham Van Helsing's decedent Gabby, bring along Dr. John Watson, decedent of THAT Watson, and Jo. I'll let you read the book to find out her connection. I am not entirely sure of it myself. There are a few tantalizing clues but not enough of a reveal to answer all my questions.
One of the things I enjoy most about the Harker novels is the humor. Certain lines, heck whole paragraphs, had me laughing out loud. The only reason I did not finish the book in one sitting, last night, is because I was disturbing the husband and the cat who were both trying to sleep. Some of the best lines:
"Mort was a demon, and country music bars are a special kind of Hell, so it only made sense that he wanted to be there."
"He was built more like a fencer than a monster".
(Having been around fencers, I can say never underestimate fencers. They can be 5'2' tall girls and take out 6' tall boys. They can look thin and slight but have extremely strong muscles and stamina to beat all.)
"Nah, I'm crazy, but it's a really fun crazy. Kind like Harley Quinn, without the abusive relationship."
Quincy Harker books are fantastic. From Book 1 to Book 7 there has not been a drop in the quality of writing. Each book answers some questions raised in the books before but also creates new one. The characters have continued to grow and evolve through each book. New characters, once introduced, do the same. The humor is great. Very well written dialogue. The main characters are people I would enjoy having a beer with and watching a Steelers football game. They are, despite their supernatural origins, real people.The plots of the books are almost like carrots dangled in front of you. You almost reach the carrot but not quite. Finally several books later when you do, you realize the carrot was not just a carrot. It was of a greater magnitude than you ever imagined.After what a totally crappy year 2016 has been, treat yourself and buy all the Quincy Harker books.
At one time, many years ago, I was a child. A child who was not afraid of clowns. I remember seeing Ringling Brother's Circus in Madison Square Garden when I was 16 years old. Clowns did not scare me one bit. Then in my late twenties I read a Stephen King book titled "IT". As with many of his other works, it took the ordinary, in this case clowns, and made them the objects of pure unadulterated terror. American Horror Story Season 4 I skipped although I have enjoyed the other seasons. When I had the opportunity to read an advance review copy of Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus's latest work, The Clowns, I took it. I have really enjoyed their work. I can say with 100% certainty if they write a sequel to The Clowns, I would probably have to make good friends with Valium to read it. The Clowns terrified me. Thanks guys for hitting any spots Stephen King missed. I did not think it was possible to ratchet up the dislike and fear of clowns but McBain and Vargus have done it. Yes there is wonderful dialogue, spots of tension breaking humor and action, clown action, clown on people action, clown with weapons on people action. It took me longer than usual to read and review this book because it really did a wonderful job terrifying me. Pat yourselves on the back, you one upped Stephen King.
METRO Series by Dmitry Glukhovsky
METRO 2033. (ENGLISH Ebook) The novel behind the METRO: LAST LIGHT video game.
Narrated By Rupert Degas
METRO 2033: The Gospel According to Artyom. (A link to Metro 2034). (Мetro series)
METRO 2034: First English illustrated edition (METRO by Dmitry Glukhovsky)
Narrated By Rupert Degas
Not released in English yet METRO 2035 (METRO 3)
I first discovered Dmitry Glukhovsky’s METRO series through a video game play on youtube. My son, knowing my love for all things apocalyptic, showed me Let's Play Metro Last Light - Part 1 - In The Beginning… by Christopher Odd. I loved the first video and decided to look into the game. The game was based on a series of novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky. The first two novels were available in English and had audio book versions. The novella which links the first and second book is available in English but has no audio book version. Absolutely no debate on purchasing the audio books.
The universe METRO builds begins in our world. The cold war is over. The USSR is a thing of the past although it’s shadow lingers over modern day Russia. The main character, Artyom, is a young adult. He was born before the event but only has very few and fragmented memories of it. On the day of the event, he and his mother were visiting a park close to a metro station. That is why they survived. The metro stations could be sealed to stop contaminants from coming in (the metro was designed and built during the USSR period). Artyom and his mother make it into the metro and past the doors before they are sealed.
The metro develops into a new society. As time goes on, the different lines or branches develop different political ideologies. Some stations are more desirable than others, some have more resources, some have ways to grow food underground, some have access to uncontaminated water. Before long treaties are made, broken and fighting begins. The metro is no longer one system but a collection of city states that are connected by dark tunnels.
What is in the tunnels is the mystery that lies at the heart of the METRO 2033 book. Traveling even a few hundred meters into the tunnels can be dangerous. Some of the dangers are defined; hordes of rats, mutated life forms that got into the tunnels from above, marauding humans who prey on their own kind. Some of the dangers are undefined. People, groups of people and caravans, evenly armed ones disappear without a trace, without a sound and no sign of struggles. The tunnel dwellers have dubbed the cause of these disappearances as the “Dark Ones”.
The website http://www.metro2033.com/ has a virtual tour of all the stations mentioned in the book. It is a wonderful way to connect the descriptions of severely damaged places with what they looked like in reality. Since the story begins in our reality, the photos are showing the reality of the Metro universe before the nuclear event.
METRO 2033 is the quest Artyom undertakes to save the entire Metro system. He is tasked with this by a mysterious man who is only referred to as “Hunter”. There is a time element to the quest. As in life in 2016, life in post-apocalypse 2033 does not go as planned. Artyom tours, sometimes unwillingly, many of the various city-states that make up the Metro. It is a fascinating trip. The characters are real. The various ideologies of the city-states are believable. The unknowns in the dark tunnels ratchet up the suspense to terrifying levels. By the end of the book, I was deeply impressed by the world the author created and how much I came to care about the characters in it.
METRO 2033: The Gospel According to Artyom is a bridge to METRO 2034. It is only twenty-seven pages but well worth the $2.99 price. Artyom illustrates the consequences of the events the ended METRO 2033. But this short piece also gives significant background into his life before and during the apocalyptic event. It really is worth the price.
METRO 2034 begins not long after the end of METRO 2033. The main characters are the “Hunter” from the first book, a man called Homer who believes it is his vocation to write a history and chronicle of the Metro, and a teenage girl named Sasha who has been recently orphaned. Sasha’s father used to be one of the dictator’s of a Metro city-state until he and the girl were banished to an area that had little to no hope of survival. They did survive. Her father managed to live long enough for her to mature and learn to defend herself before his death. Hunter, Homer and Sasha come together in a collision of missions, Sasha’s to survive, Hunter and Homer to find out what happened to a station that no longer broadcasts or sends runners with news. Artyom does not have a large part in this story. He does not make an appearance until Chapter 10. Yet everything that is happening is a consequence of his actions in METRO 2033. The threat this time is not the Dark Ones. It is something much worse and something almost impossible to stop. As with the first book, the characters are fantastic and I grew to care about them. The action is non-stop.
The audiobooks of METRO 2033 and METRO 2034 are narrated by Rupert Degas. He is fantastic. His accent for the Russian speakers if marvelous. When simply narrating, not the dialogue, he has a very clear voice with an English accent. His female voices are very well done. I have since added several of his titles to my wish list.
The last book in the series METRO 2035 has not been released in English yet. I wonder if a social media campaign of begging to the author could help facilitate that happening.
by D. J. Molles
Pub Date 30 Aug 2016
I received a copy of this e-book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Wolves is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The book begins with three men, each on their own mission of revenge or rescue. They have each lost family and/or friends to the "wolves" or slavers. All they know is the slavers travel east to sell their cargo. To go east, they must cross a desert. They must confront people who are complicit in the slavers business and people who just do not care. It is a novel of perseverance against the elements as well as enemies.
This is really my favorite genre. I was looking forward to reading it after seeing a lot of build up on social media and book review sites. Unfortunately I was disappointed. I just did not connect with any of the characters. I struggled to get through the book. I received it on August 30th and just finished it today, November 6th. That is an incredibly long time for me to complete a book.
I am not saying readers should read this book. Other readers will probably enjoy it. It just did not do it for me.
Victoria: The Queen
An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire
by Julia Baird
Random House Publishing Group - Random House
Pub Date 22 Nov 2016
I recently reviewed another book on Queen Victoria. It was historical fiction by Daisy Goodwin. In the review I commented that I was left though with a hunger for more. Julia Baird's Victoria: The Queen satisfied that hunger. It was a very readable and enjoyable non-fiction that covers Victoria from birth to death.The book was extremely well researched but the research did not overpower the story at the hands of a very good author.
Victoria was not supposed to be queen. There were several uncles and their possible children between her and the throne. By the time she was thirteen though, it was apparent that Victoria was the future queen of England. Until she inherited the throne and became queen, she was tightly controlled by her mother and her mother's Sevengali like employee, Sir John Conroy. They plan to control the throne by controlling Victoria. Best laid plans and all that.
The book details how Victoria asserted her own authority, found her own advisers and eventually chose her own husband. One of the things I learned from the book is that the Victorian values owes more to her husband Prince Albert than to Victoria herself. She was less concerned about the moral fiber of her people than the day to day ruling of her people. Albert was the one who had extremely rigid morality.
Ms. Baird also details Victoria's relationship with her children, her prime ministers and her foreign counterparts. As she marries her children off into other European and Russian royalty, she creates a large extended family with it's head sitting on the English throne. I really enjoyed the book. The details I craved after reading the historical fiction book were all found in Victoria: The Queen. It was wonderful to have every part of Victoria's life covered in one book. Before you watch PBS's new mini-series Victoria, read Ms. Baird's Victoria" The Queen so you can separate the fact from the fiction.
I received Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.