Linda78

P.S. I Spook You

P.S. I Spook You - S.E. Harmon

Some of y'all said this was like PsyCop.

 

 

This was more like Ghost Whisperer, without the cleavage. Or brain smarts. Or cooperative ghosts.

 

Really, for the first half of the book, the ghosts seemed almost coincidental to the plot. Rain saw some ghosts, mostly ignored them, and then went about his day. Of course, he's new to all this, so I guess in the long-run that makes sense, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. 

 

Then the plot seemed to start to gel for awhile as they made some breakthroughs on the case, and I was able to get more into it. And then, Rain went into TSTL territory at 90%, and even though he called himself out on being TSTL that didn't take away the fact that he did a stupid thing that even amateurs would know to stay away from - and him being the so-called FBI profiler should definitely know better.

 

There were also a few plot fails. The first time in the book any kind of timeline was mentioned for the case was the case going cold after two years. Then later, Rain is talking to his mom, who mentioned noticing something of Amy's going missing a year ago and that she figured Amy had given it away. Then later still, it's finally mentioned - twice - that Amy's been gone for five years. These should've been caught by an even half-way competent editor, but this is DSP so I guess that's asking too much. (Yes, it says five years in the blurb, but I don't reread blurbs before I read a book since I expect the book to make these reveals in non-confusing ways. I shouldn't have to read the blurb after the book to clarify things.)

 

Then there's the whole nonsense with 

the storage locker. Amy had paid for the locker in cash under a false name, and yet the locker was still being rented out to her five years later? No discussion on who's been making the payments, if anyone has. No reveal on what name she rented it out on. And if no one has been making the payments, that locker would've been emptied out and the items in it sold, and the locker rented to someone who actually pays. Also, keys are encoded, so it would make sense for the rental office to have a list of key numbers to match with locker numbers, but nope, not here. Maybe this office manager is lazy. *shrugs*

(show spoiler)

 

The romance between Rain and Danny is just kind of there. I didn't feel their connection. They were good as friends with benefits, but I wasn't convinced of their romance/love. Oh, and then Rain's significantly injured right before the first sex scene, but of course this doesn't slow them down at all, and the injuries are never mentioned again even though the rest of the book only spans a week or two at most.

 

I thought Rain's mom was a hoot when we met her, but then she never made another appearance. We meet Rain's sister a couple of times, and they have a great dynamic, but I don't think we ever meet his father. If we did, I already forgot about it. I would've liked to see more of his family, but alas. 

 

The ending was a little too tied with a bow, yet there's this whole thing with Danny's sister that's kind of left unresolved that felt like a weird choice for the story. 

 

There are a lot of good ideas here but it never really came together.

Brave New World (Audiobook)

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley, Michael York

Brave New Shock Value: the Anti-Utopia

 

So, I read that. Or listened to that. I can see why this was a revolutionary novel when it was written. Huxley set out to write a satire of the utopian novels so popular in his day and wrote a horror story instead. It's certainly imaginative, and not entirely out of left field, unfortunately. It does show its age in some respects, but since this is meant to be uncomfortable, that's not as much of a deterrent as it could be. I'm not really sure what to rate this though, so I'm leaving it unrated.

 

Narration is top-notch though - 5 stars for Michael York.

Interim Errantry (Young Wizards #9.3, 9.5, 9.7)

Interim Errantry: Three Tales of the Young Wizards - Diane Duane

Three novellas? More like two short stories and a novel, because the third story is way too long to be a novella.

 

Not on My Patch and How Lovely Are Thy Branches are cute little holiday-centered shorts, the first for Halloween and the second for Christmas. Not a whole lot to say about them, but they were fun and it was nice to see the kids hanging out and being friends without their lives in mortal peril. 

 

Life Boats is entirely from Kit's POV, which is unusual and a nice change up from the shared POVs. Our friendly Earth wizards are off to help a planet evacuate before the planet's moon can fall apart and crash into it. So you know, no big deal. ;) Except that some of the planet's population don't seem able to or willing to leave, and no one can figure out why. This was not as terrifying a story as I thought it would be, given the world-ending premise, and it's wrapped up in a true YW way. There's a lot more hanging out, meeting and making new friends, and quite a bit of ... er, grown up talk as Kit and Nita are still figuring out their new relationship. I do like what this set of stories did for showing their friendship and how much their affections for each other have grown, and went some way to convincing me this is a good pairing and not just forced because of course the girl protag and the boy protag ALWAYS have to end up a couple. 

 

I don't think I've mentioned it much, if at all, in other reviews for this series, because I was so wrapped up in the emotional hangover, but these NME editions are not the best edited. There are a lot of simple mistakes in the text throughout the series, and while the last couple of books have been much better, this one almost seems to be making up for those. Extra words, missing words, misplaced words - if the writing wasn't so strong, I'd be more annoyed by this, but I felt I needed to mention it at last.

Infected: Lost Weekend (Infected #7.5)

Infected: The Lost Weekend - Andrea Speed

Scott hires Roan to look for a missing teammate. Misery ensues. :P

 

This apparently takes place at some point after Undertow, since Scott's concussion is cleared up and he's living in a hotel for some reason. Holden's working his first official case as a real P.I. It's a quick read, a single case that actually goes somewhere, and Ms. Speed doesn't have time to indulge in her typical writing that drives me crazy. It's a win-win. :D

Infected: Undertow (Infected #7)

Infected: Undertow - Andrea Speed

Hm, not sure what to say about this one. It more or less starts off where the last one ended, but then it kind of meanders from there. Roan's condition keeps changing and no one knows what it means - which has been par for the course throughout the series. There's some repetition that could have been edited out to provide a tighter story, and at this point in the series, it really doesn't add anything to keep going over the same ground. It feels like Ms. Speed is treading water, more than anything, and I'm getting rather tired of how impressed everyone is with themselves. Let's just say, I'm glad there's only one left.

 

Once again, the characters themselves are the best part. Holden and Scott are the special treat here, since their not-exactly-a-relationship-but-it's-totally-a-relationship relationship allows us to see different facets of Holden and actually see him have no clue what he's doing for once. :D I wish we'd seen more of Fiona, Seb, Dropkick and the other side characters, but they were mostly shunted to the side. Even Dylan wasn't as prominent in this one.

 

The cases were more hodgepodge than usual and not even worth mentioning, really. At least Roan solves one.

Enjoy the Dance (Dancing #2) (Audiobook)

Enjoy the Dance - Iggy Toma, Heidi Cullinan, Heidi Cullinan

Story: 3 stars

Narration: 4 stars

Overall: 3.5 stars

 

Turns out, waiting around for election results is just as boring in a book as in real life. The timeline for this book covers some important and groundbreaking moments for gay rights and equality, and while those are moments worth celebrating, I felt like the author got so caught up in chronicling every single one that she kind of forgot to tell a story, and that story was Duon.

 

Duon is the catalyst for this story, since Spencer finds the boy outside his apartment while Duon is waiting for Tomas, Spencer's across-the-hall neighbor, to come back from one of his three jobs. It's seeing Duon's predicament - beat up by his own cousins, kicked out by his grandmother, and homeless - that compels Spencer, a former foster care kid himself, to take Duon in and give him a home and family. Tomas, who is suspicious of the system for several reasons, is at first wary of Spencer, but comes to see his good qualities and eventually the two fall in love. And in between Spencer finding a family, Tomas trying to keep his family together, there's this kid that gets shuffled to the background for the majority of the story even though it's because of him that all of this is happening. It felt like the book was disconnected from itself, and while there was just enough to see that Spencer and Duon do care for each other, that relationship is really only ever given lip service. The same is true of Tomas's nieces and nephew. We're told they exist, as they're part of the reason Tomas has so many jobs, but we don't see them much at all.

 

I did like how the relationship developed between Spencer and Tomas though. Tomas's mom was a hoot (but oy, vey, that accent) and his father was pretty great too. There's a lot of Laurie and Ed in this one, and it was cool to see how they took care of everyone around them. I especially like how Laurie was able to calm down a nervous Spencer to convince him to learn tap dance. Seeing Spencer and Tomas let their guards down with each other was a treat, and they were able to understand each others' struggles and support each other despite their different backgrounds. 

 

The narration was as good here as in the first one. Iggy Toma has a new fan. :D 

Dance With Me (Dancing #1) (Audiobook)

Dance With Me - Heidi Cullinan

I don't know why I took so long to listen to this, but I really enjoyed it. Ed is trying to get his life back on track after a major injury sidelined him from playing football ever again, and Laurie (short for Laurence) has been hiding from performing while teaching at a community center. They're both at odds with themselves, and initially with each other until they rediscover their love of dance together.

 

I have a few minor quibbles with some of the early plotting, but overall I really enjoyed watching Laurie and Ed getting over their initial dislike of each other through dance and how they were able to help each other find that thing that's been missing in their lives. I liked that their challenges were believable and didn't just magically disappear because of love. Ed still has a serious neck injury. Laurie still has a long road before he's fully comfortable performing again. 

 

This was my first narration by Iggy Toma and he was great. I really loved the nuance he gave to his performance and the characters, and he captured them all well. He speaks clearly and with feeling, and makes the story come alive. I look forward to more stories read by him. 

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (The Tales of Dunk and Egg, 1-3)

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: Being the Adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, and His Squire, Egg - George R.R. Martin

I didn't know what to expect from these novellas except that they occurred around ninety years before A Game of Thrones and featured a knight named Dunk and his squire named Egg.

 

First thing: I love the illustrations! They're reminiscent of the books I read as a kid, and I wished they were in color. They fit tonally with the stories and the illustrator picks great moments to highlight.

 

The novellas were originally written for anthologies, and so spaced out over time. Reading them one after the other shows some repetition in some of the exposition, and some similarities in the tales are more obvious, but those are the only issues I had and they were minor. 

 

The stories aren't as grim or dark as the ASoIaF stories, so if you've been avoiding those because you don't want all the murder, pillaging, raping and child endangerment, these might be more your speed. Of course, this is still George R.R. Martin, so they're not fluffapalooza, but they are lighter in tone and Dunk and Egg are very sweet with each other.

 

Dunk is one of those rarities in Martin's writing: a genuinely good guy who stands by his convictions, does what's right and doesn't get horribly killed because of it. Egg is irascible and sheltered, but more than game for following Dunk around the kingdoms and proves receptive of everything Dunk has to teach him, whether it's how to care for armor, how to treat others better or how to hold his tongue. ... Ok, maybe not so much that last one. ;) 

 

There's also still plenty of politics and intrigue, as these stories occur about a decade after the Blackfyre rebellion and the realm is still feeling the aftermath of it. Dunk might not be very good at avoiding getting tangled up in events, but he's so far proving good at getting out of them. :D

The Rebuilding Year (The Rebuilding Year #1) (Audiobook)

The Rebuilding Year - Kaje Harper, Kaje Harper, Gomez Pugh

My review for the book is here (spoilers in the link, so beware):

 

http://linda78.booklikes.com/post/972976/the-rebuilding-year-the-rebuilding-year-1

 

So this'll just be for the narration. 

 

I was introduced to Gomez Pugh with the PsyCop audios, like nearly most others were, and I loved them! With the exception of Jacob's voice, he was perfection for that series and for Vic, so I had high hopes when I saw this book would be narrated by him. I know he's done other books besides PsyCop but this was my first experience of him doing new material. And it did not live up to expectations.

 

Technically, he's as good as ever. He's clear, precise and easy to follow, and there's no confusion about POV. Performance wise, he doesn't differentiate between voices very much, and for the first half of the book at least he's doing Jacob's voice for John. He finally settles into it and gives John his own voice, and it does improve from there. But this isn't the performance I've come to expect from him from PsyCop. 

 

A good solid reading, but somewhat lacking performance = 3 stars from me.

The Innocent Auction - DNF @ 25%.

The Innocent Auction - Story Perfect Editing Services, Victoria  Sue

Contrived scenes to give the MCs forbidden but tepid smooching scenes, zero build up to any kind of relationship and zero chemistry despite all the lusting between them. Bored now.

 

There is an attempt at a plot though, so that's nice, but honestly, I've read much better master/servant fanfic than this back when I was absorbing every Frodo/Sam slash fic I could get my greedy little hands on. Plus, the constant bad grammar (was stood, had sat) and missing punctuation killed this story even before I got to this:

 

"...his skin taught..."

 

Um...sorry, honey, but skin cannot be taught. It has no brains to be learning with! It can however be taut.

 

Snuff (Discworld #39) (Audiobook) - DNF @ 24%

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

Just not feeling this one. Sybil's great but Sam is not my favorite character by a long shot, and it's just taking way too long for the actual story to begin. The sarcasm and irony is on overload too, but doesn't really have a point.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel - Mark T. Sullivan

5 stars for story

4 stars for narration

4.5 stars overall

 

I loved this. It's easily the best thing that has come out of Amazon Kindle First ever, and I'm so glad I picked it up. 

 

This is a "novel" only because the author wasn't able to verify all the facts of the story that Pino Lella told him about his time in Italy during the last two years of the war. As it explains in the foreword, a lot of documents were "lost" after the war, and many people who lived through it chose not to talk about it and simply let it fade into history. Being unable to 100% verify every detail, the author decided to call it a novel, but it is a biography. 

 

As such, I can't really critique this the same way I normally would any other story. These are real people and real events. There's no ultimate struggle of good vs evil (well, there is but as we all know, humans are complicated and things aren't always so black and white) and there are no tropes to rely on or subvert. This is just what happened, and it's both inspiring and infuriating. 

 

Without giving too much away - and assuming you're not a WWII history buff and might know some of these details already - Pino Lella was seventeen when the war came to Italy, and in order to avoid being conscripted and forced to fight on the German front in Poland, where many Italians pressed into service were losing their lives, he instead "volunteered" to work for Operation Todt. All he knew about it was that it was less likely to get him killed and would keep him off the warfront. Things don't go as planned and he ends up in a prime position to work for the resistance, getting them valuable information that helped the Allied invasion. 

 

For the first third of the book, things move pretty slowly. Pino is at first hidden in the mountains near the Switzerland border and helps refugees escape over the border. When his parents bring him back to Milan, things start to pick up and slowly get more complicated. And yet, things seem to almost go too well. Then the end of the war is in sight, and that's when things really hit the fan. The writing in the last third is especially strong and emotive, and I really had to work not to cry in the car as I listened to this on my daily commute. 

 

As for the narrator, Will Damron, he takes the Kevin Costner approach to accents. I would honestly have no accent at all than to listen to a really horrible Italian accent, so I wasn't bothered by this. He does do a decent German accent though. He's very clear and easy to follow along with, and he reads at a good pace. At first, his narration was almost matter-of-fact, but he can really bring the emotions when it's called for. I would say for the most part, he's a 3 star narrator, but the ending was strong enough to bump it up to 4 stars. (And he's certainly popular with audiobooks, so he has his fans.) One thing he did do that annoyed me throughout was numbering the section breaks within the chapter, instead of just pausing for a few seconds like any other narrator would do. I never quite got used to it.

Winterwode (The Wode #3)

Winterwode (The Wode) - J. Tullos Hennig

This series continues to impress. Just to be upfront - this series isn't a romance. Yes, there's a love story but the focus is really on Robyn and Marion's fight against the various forces that would see an end to their pagan way of life. Completing the trifecta is Gamelyn, Summer lord to Robyn's Winter. While Robyn's quest is pretty straightforward, the complications come from Gamelyn's inner turmoil and doubts and Marion's continued recovery from her ordeals in the previous book. They're both trying to find their footing, and Robyn's just trying to keep everyone together, after having lost them before. 

 

I did miss having narration, since the narrator for the first two books is so great. He had a way of reading the passive voice structure of some of the sections and sentences that still gave them energy. It took some time getting used to it, but once I did the story moved along flawlessly. 

 

This is a bridge book to the next trilogy of books in the series, but there's plenty here to keep my interested, and it does have a beginning, middle, end. It wouldn't stand on its own though, as you really do have to have read the first two books first, and while there's no cliffhanger per se, it's obviously a "to be continued" kind of ending. 

Last Hope Island

Last Hope Island: How Nazi-Occupied Europe Joined Forces with Britain to Help Win World War II - Lynne Olson

Like every other American growing up post-Vietnam and during the Cold War, I got the propaganda-version of WW II taught to me during school (and pretty much all of American history, really). We only got the briefest of overviews about WWII and the Holocaust, and our part in the war and a little about England's and that's about it. 

 

This book doesn't go into super deep details - it's only 478 pages of text - but it does given a good description of the roles that the other Allied forces played in the war. It focuses on the powers in exile in England, so there's still a lot that goes uncovered, though even the Pacific theater and African coast get very brief mentions. What this focuses on is Poland, the Netherlands and France, and to a lesser extent Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Norway. It details various successes (like the fact that Poland broke Enimga long before Alan Turing and Ultra did; and the resistance movements in the various occupied countries) and failures (Market Garden extending the war another year; and I really hope the men and women at MI6 function better now than they did then, yikes). 

 

The author did a good job of expressing all views of the various nations and their interests in the war. There was no finger-pointing, just statements of facts, misunderstandings and self-interest. (Though make no mistake, FDR's popularity in our nation's history is so not earned, and this book highlights many of the reasons why.) Everyone made blunders and everyone did their best under difficult circumstances.

 

This is a good book if you want to know more about the lesser-known facts of the war and can help point you towards things you might want to know more about for further research.

The Death of Dulgath (The Riyria Chronicles #3) (Audiobook) - DNF @ 30%.

The Death of Dulgath: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 3 - Audible Studios, Michael J. Sullivan, Michael J. Sullivan, Tim Gerard Reynolds

I was just listening because it was there. That's not a good enough reason.

 

At least I got one last brilliant scene of Hadrian and Royce bickering before the plot forgot who the main characters were.

The Rose and the Thorn (The Riyria Chronicles #2) (Audiobook)

The Rose and the Thorn - Michael J. Sullivan

One thing that is consistent with this series is that Hadrian and Royce as the fantastical odd couple are hilarious, and if this series were just them going around righting wrongs and singing songs a la Xena and Gaby, I'd probably enjoy this series a whole lot more. They work off each other really well. Royce is the cynic ex-assassin who only sees greed in everyone, Hadrian is the optimistic ex-soldier who is determined to show Royce the cheerier side of life. Gwen is also a great character, and it was neat to see how Ruben met Arista and became a part of these stories. I have to be honest about not remembering Albert from the original series (which I've decided not to finish after reading some reviews and returned the last volume to Audible), which I'm regretting because he's an interesting character here. (He's got a definite Joxer-esque vibe to him.) 

 

But then these first two prequels are, in general, more interesting since they're mainly focused on introducing Hadrian and Royce to each other and setting up the rest of the series. They have the benefit of being fresh and mostly self-contained. However, this one does start to get bogged down with the larger mythos and political scheming that dragged down the original series, and Mr. Sullivan still has a tendency towards talking heads when it comes to exposition. His villains are also not nearly as smart or sly as they think they are, though at least in this case it's not required for them to be since we already know who they are.

 

So this was good, and the narrator continues to do a good job with all the characters and does his best to make the talking heads sound natural. There were even a few good laughs, but also a few "whaa?" moments. I'll listen to the next one, since I already have it, and see how that one goes. 

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