Oh, I liked this. Not at all realistic, and a bit schmaltzy at times, but it was the perfect light read for me right now. It had everything -- romance...moreOh, I liked this. Not at all realistic, and a bit schmaltzy at times, but it was the perfect light read for me right now. It had everything -- romance, interesting, likeable characters, mystery, time travel...
The audio version was great. January LaVoy did an excellent job with all the different characters' voices, and her speech was natural and easy to listen to. Definitely one of those audiobooks where you forget you're listening to someone narrate a story and just fall into the plot.(less)
I'd been looking forward to the release of this book from the minute I put down the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, which I devoured in about a d...moreI'd been looking forward to the release of this book from the minute I put down the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, which I devoured in about a day. I did enjoy this one, but not nearly as much as the previous book. As others have noted, I felt like Harkness got bogged down in all the nitty-gritty details of life the late 16th century and the difficulties our 21st-century protagonist, Diana, encountered adapting to life in 1590.
I felt like every time the plot moved forward, it was like a stage hook jerked the story back into focus after getting lost in the minutia. This wasn't nearly so present in the first book, but that's probably because Harkness is an Elizabethan literary scholar and presumably has all this knowledge of the era she wants to write about. I get that. If you're passionate about something, you can sometimes get lost in it. But her editor should have helped her narrow down the focus a bit.
It also seemed like the ending got rushed and some things that we really should have seen were skipped altogether (perhaps the editor/publisher saying "Hurry it up already, we need to get this to the press. Pen down.") The two biggest examples of this for me were (view spoiler)[Emily's death and the fact that Phoebe was important enough to Marcus at the end of the novel to warrant being taken to the family home in France.
Let me repeat: Emily's death. I got to that part about Sarah being all mourful and drunk and pissed off, and I was sure I had accidentally skipped a chapter. And after doing a few searches on my Kindle and finding bubkis, I thought maybe the Kindle edition had accidentally left out a chapter. I did a google search and found out other people were equally befuddled. What the hell happened to Emily? She died off stage? That was extremely poor editing. I can forgive the fact that Marcus apparently fell so head over heels for Phoebe that she's now basically part of the family, despite the fact that the last time we left them, he hadn't even taken her out on a date yet. But Emily being killed? Without any mention of it until we find Sarah drunk and depressed about it later? No explanation of how it even happened? There had to be a chapter accidentally left on the cutting room floor, right? Right? (hide spoiler)]
I felt a little ambivalent about the whole 21st-century-Matthew-displacing-16th-century-Matthew-for-nearly-a-year thing, too. I like the idea in theory, and it sort of makes sense. I can buy that there can't be two of the same person in one timeline. But they made absolutely no effort to stay hidden away from Matthew's life during that time or set up some cover story for when the 16th-century Matthew returned, sans wife and back to his witch-hating ways. What did they expect to have happen when Queen Lizzie -- or anyone they'd interacted with for the past 9 months -- asks him about his wife, and he's like "um, not married, Your Majesty." I felt a little sorry for 16th-century Matthew, having to come back to his life and have absolutely no frickin' idea what had transpired over the past 9 months or how to answer questions about anything that had occurred when 21st-century Matthew was living his life.
(view spoiler)[But seriously, Emily. I could have loved this book and set aside every other misgiving I'd had about it, if only we'd gotten a better explanation about Emily's death. I don't even mind that she died. I just wish we'd actually gotten to read about it instead of hearing about it as an after-thought. (hide spoiler)]
I picked this one up after I'd finished reading Blackout and All Clear, both of which I very much enjoyed, and I figured I might as well go back and r...moreI picked this one up after I'd finished reading Blackout and All Clear, both of which I very much enjoyed, and I figured I might as well go back and read the first novel in the Oxford Time Travel series. I had high hopes for this book, because even those who gave negative reviews to Blackout and All Clear seemed to rave about Doomsday Book. I, however, was not quite as impressed with this one as I was with the later books in the series.
One of the flaws of ALL of Willis's books (at least those I've read to date) are that they seem to drag on and are quite a bit longer than they really need to be. And that's something coming from me, as I LOVE a good long book.
This book is split between two times: 2054/2055, which is the main character's home time, and 1348, which is the time she goes back to (though she believes she has been sent back to 1320). There's an epidemic going on in both times -- some sort of flu in the present day, and the Black Death in the past -- though it takes forever to get to that point. And the entire middle portion of the novel is spent painstakingly going over every detail of who's sick, what they're thinking while they're sick, what everyone ELSE is thinking while they're sick, what's being done about it, what's NOT being done about it, etc. etc. etc. In both time periods. It's drawn out and tedious.
The redeeming factor of the novel is the interpersonal relationships that are formed. Collin (who later appears in Blackout and All Clear is, of course, wonderful. And Father Roche -- a kindhearted, simple country preacher -- is spectacular and heart-warming. Willis seems to be particularly adept at creating wonderful, lovable children in her novels -- I wanted to scoop up Agnes and take her home with me.
Had it not been for these wonderful characters, I doubt I would have made it through the book, so much of it was so tedious to slog through. It's too bad, too, because the story itself was interesting, and it definitely could have benefited from being about 1/3 shorter.
As far as the audiobook production goes, I'd give that a 3.5-star rating. Jenny Sterlin does a passable job at narrating, but it wasn't spectacular. I was always very aware of the fact that I was listening to someone narrating a book. She did voices, but they weren't terribly varied, and it was sometimes confusing trying to figure out who was speaking. There were also the occasional rustling of papers that could be heard, which was a bit distracting.
Overall, I'd say it was a decent read, but not one I'd highly recommend or bother to read again.(less)
I listened to the audio versions of these, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, who did a fantastic job. Every character had a distinct and entirely appropriate voice, to the point where I forgot, at times, that I was listening to just one person reading the book.
As for the books themselves, I wasn't sure at first that I was going to enjoy them all that much. It took me a while to get into the first book, and I figured it was going to be a mediocre read that would sufficiently pass the time, but which I wouldn't end up loving. That changed maybe 1/3 of the way into the first book. I'm not entirely sure what made me change my mind, but all of a sudden, I was completely intrigued to find out what would happen next. I think the fact that the story starts off with all the main characters doing their own things and living their own separate lives is what made it difficult to get into. Once things starting connecting up, though, I was pulled in.
The further we got into the story, and the more we learned about the interrelationships with other "contemps" (the people who lived in and belonged to the past), I was sold. Particular favorites were the vicar, Mr. Good; Talbot, the ambulance driver in 1944; and of course, Sir Godfrey (my personal favorite character in the entire story). These people and their relationships with our main characters are what made the book good and not just another sci-fi novel about people travelling through time.
There were a few things that kept me from giving the book a 5-star rating, however. One was possibly due to the audiobook format: because every chapter starts off with a time and location, and it jumps around so much from 1940/1941 to 1944 to 2060, etc., it was sometimes difficult to follow and keep track of who was who and where we were in the chronological time stream. It would have perhaps been easier to follow in print format, since it would be easy enough to flip back to the beginning of a chapter and look. It was easier once we got further in the book, and I was able to remember who/where/when the various characters were. (view spoiler)[And it became infinitely easier to follow once I figured out Mary was Polly and Earnest was Michael, just at different points in their time stream. (hide spoiler)]
It felt a bit forced and overdramatic, at times, too. The characters drew conclusions that seemed a bit far-fetched and fatalistic (though I suppose living through a constant barrage of bombings every night would fray anyone's nerves, even if they weren't stranded in the past, so I suppose maybe that's okay.)
Overall, though, I was gripped with the story and in love with several of the characters. As I've said, Sir Godfrey may be one of my all-time favorite fictional characters ever. (view spoiler)[And while I understand that Polly had to end up with Colin, and that Sir Godfrey was 50 years her senior in 1941, so that even if she wasn't from the future, it would have never worked out... I still sort of hoped she'd end up with him instead. And I admit I got a little choked up during their parting scene in the theater, especially when Sir Godfrey called out to Colin, quoting Shakespeare one last time, telling him "I have given you you here a third of mine own life -- or that for which I live." (hide spoiler)]
Connie Willis may not be the best author ever, nor were these the greatest books ever written, but they definitely held my attention, wrenched my heart a time or two, and were a very enjoyable read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I loved this book. I freely admit that I am a time-travel junkie, but I'm also not a huge fan of Stephen King, so I wasn't so sure how well this book...moreI loved this book. I freely admit that I am a time-travel junkie, but I'm also not a huge fan of Stephen King, so I wasn't so sure how well this book and I would get along. But I was gripped from the start and mourned when it was over. Not that it didn't have a perfectly good ending, I just didn't want it to be over.
The novel is billed as that of a man who goes back in time set on stopping the assassination of JFK. However, he doesn't even get to that til the second half of the book, since the time fissure he ends up going through dumps him in 1958, and he has to live out those years between then and November 1963. So the first half of the book is almost entirely about how he just *lives* in the past -- things he has to get used to, the people he meets, the lives he interacts with and changes (for better or worse).
I listened to the audio version of the book, narrated by Craig Wasson. He did a mostly impressive job, with lots of voices and accents, though his children's voices were absolutely abominable: every one of them sounded like a dying old woman. But his dying old woman voice? Very good. And I swear his voice of the yellow card man caused a chill to run up my spine.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Even for people who don't like time travel books, or people who don't like Stephen King. It's just a fantastic read.(less)
A cute, quick little read. I think I would have adored this when I was a kid. I enjoyed reading it as an adult, though it was a bit simplistic at time...moreA cute, quick little read. I think I would have adored this when I was a kid. I enjoyed reading it as an adult, though it was a bit simplistic at times (which is OK, given its target audience). I'm actually surprised I DIDN'T stumble on this one when I was young, but I'm glad I was able to read it now. (less)
I'm ashamed to admit that I bought this the morning it became available and read throughout the day and into the night, forgoing sleep in order to kee...moreI'm ashamed to admit that I bought this the morning it became available and read throughout the day and into the night, forgoing sleep in order to keep reading. It was just one of those page-turner types of books that I couldn't put down. (It helps that I'm a sucker for a good time-travel story.) The only thing I felt was missing was an epilogue.(less)
There was a poster of the book in my 4th grade classroom, and it intrigued me. I started reading it while everyone else was finishing up another book...moreThere was a poster of the book in my 4th grade classroom, and it intrigued me. I started reading it while everyone else was finishing up another book we were assigned (and which I had flown thew and finished already), and I inhaled it. I read the rest in the series that year (probably that month, IIRC), and I've re-read them over and over again throughout my life. This has, to this day, remained one of my all-time favorite children's books.(less)
I read this book shortly after it came out, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But my mom suggested I listen to the audiobook version as well, as she absol...moreI read this book shortly after it came out, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But my mom suggested I listen to the audiobook version as well, as she absolutely adored it. So I started this version of the book while I was on a business trip.
It's read by two different narrators - a woman for Claire's POV, and a man for Henry's POV. This method of narration really hits home the two different PsOV and how differently Henry's time-traveling adventures affects Claire and Henry.
The only thing that made me cringe from time to time were the mispronunciations. At one point, Henry says "vicodin" with the stress on the second syllable, but later on pronounces it correctly. Claire mispronounces all sorts of Japanese names and words when they go out for sushi one night. But really, these are very minor annoyances, and they only distract from the story momentarily.
Overall, I enjoyed it immensely, and of course, I cried at the end, probably harder than I did when I read it the first time through.
And it's still one of my favorite time-travel novels.(less)
This sixth book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is probably my favorite after the first. It is, I think, one of the stronger books and doesn't dr...moreThis sixth book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is probably my favorite after the first. It is, I think, one of the stronger books and doesn't drag nearly as much as some of the others, despite its hefty size. It was a joy to read, back when it was released, but it was also a joy to listen to the unabridged audiobook version. It's not for the impatient - the audiobook is 48 discs and 56 hours long. It took me nearly 2 months of listening to this series to even get to this book (they're all quite length, right?) but listening to them was almost easier than reading them, as you're not tempted to skip over some of the duller parts that end up having tidbits woven in that have critical importance later.
Story aside, the narration is wonderful. The unabridged versions of this series are read by Davina Porter, who is hands down the best narrator I've heard. She doesn't sound like she's reading - it's incredibly easy to just listen to the story and forget you're listening to someone reading a book. She has a whole slew of voices that she uses, making it very, very easy to tell who's speaking, even when they're unidentified for a time. Yet they're not hokey voices - they sound entirely realistic. Most of her accents are great, too. Admittedly, her British accents (upper- and lower-class English, Scottish lowlands and highlands, and Irish) are far better than her other ones (her South Indies and French accents are passable, her German accent sounds like a blend between Scottish and French, and her American accent is ... not identifiable as American at all, though she tries). Having listened to her read all six Outlander books, I'm tempted to track down a number of other books she's narrated solely because she's the one reading them.(less)
It's perhaps my favorite of all of the Outlander novels after the first, and certainly a relief after book 5, The Fiery Cross, which dragged on inces...moreIt's perhaps my favorite of all of the Outlander novels after the first, and certainly a relief after book 5, The Fiery Cross, which dragged on incessantly. It's still bulky, but the story progresses more quickly and fluidly, and you don't get all the tiny, boring, little details of everything (i.e. a minute-by-minute replay).(less)
My least favorite of the Outlander books. It drags on and on, you get information you couldn't care less about, and very little of the actual arching...moreMy least favorite of the Outlander books. It drags on and on, you get information you couldn't care less about, and very little of the actual arching plot of the series is developed in this volume. I would have put it down had it not been in the middle of a series that, overall, I enjoy.(less)
An enjoyable (if lengthy) novel of time travel, history, war, romance, and all sorts of other topics you don't generally find wrapped up in one story....moreAn enjoyable (if lengthy) novel of time travel, history, war, romance, and all sorts of other topics you don't generally find wrapped up in one story. It's easy to grow attached to the main characters, Claire and Jamie, and the story keeps you wanting more (so it's a good thing it's the first novel in a lengthy series).(less)