I am, by now, an old audiobook listener and I have heard many kinds of narrators in my time thus far. Some I swore I would never ever listen t...moreReview:
I am, by now, an old audiobook listener and I have heard many kinds of narrators in my time thus far. Some I swore I would never ever listen to ever again. Some I tolerated but would, maybe, rather read the paperback than listen to. (And that is not complimentary in the audiobook industry.) Some I became a die hard fan of and is an auto-buy for me, just like the authors I read. However, this is the first audiobook I've listened by Amanda Ronconi and I have to say that I am fast becoming a fan. Her words are clear and distinct. The diction perfect. And the quality of her voice is not aggravating to the ears. In fact it was sampling her reading in audible which lead me into buying this book! So I bought this book because I liked the what I heard in the audible sample. And plus the fact that this is in the urban fantasy genre. However if this book was presented to me on it's own as a paperback and not as an audiobook sample I don't think it would really ping my book-buying radar because the premise is very ordinary. As in, it has been used a few times too many around the block already. Namely, True Blood series. So the audiobook sampling was, really, a good marketing strategy! The bad news is, like True Blood's Sookie Stackhouse, our heroine is also too stupid to live (TSTL). However I blame the plot development rather than the character development here because it is pretty obvious that the character(s) purposely act stupid to create a dilemma in the story so that our heroes could show off and save the world. Pretty weak plot. Not to mention that it also has the annoying "character inconsistency" issues! But me being an urban fantasy geek, likes the premise and the world building in the story! But even that wouldn't make me spend money on a book in this series again. If ever, I would borrow it from the library.
Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 3 Character development = 2 Story itself = 2 Ending = 3.5 World building = 3.5 Cover art = 3 Pace = (8hrs and 55mins listening time) Plot = 1 Narration = 4
I understand that this book managed to butcher the Russian culture into an ugly mess such that anyone with a smidgen of knowledge of the Russi...moreReview:
I understand that this book managed to butcher the Russian culture into an ugly mess such that anyone with a smidgen of knowledge of the Russian culture hated this book. Or, gave it a low rating at GoodReads. Now, I am not Russian nor know the Russian culture, so I was fine and totally oblivious about how bad the Russian culture got mangled in this book. Sometimes ignorance is a bliss! However having said that, this book gets a demerit for mangling someone else's culture. Poking fun at yourself and your own culture is one thing. But it is rude to butcher other people's culture. Demerit it is then! But on the other hand, if the "culture mangling demerit" is taken out of the equation entirely, I have to admit that Leigh Bardugo weaves a fantastic plot of struggle for survival and coming of age story set in an extraordinary world of monsters and men. Gotta give the author kudos for the beautiful world building!
Lauren Fortgang's words are clear but sometimes she does not stop or pause between chapters or when a change of scene happens that it takes a heartbeat or two for me to realize that the people talking are now different and the story line has changed. This necessitated a few rewinds and replays which made the book feel like a whole lot longer than the 9 hours that the audiobook is suppose to be. I don't know whether to blame the narrator for this or the audiobook director, but either way, it diminshed the listening pleasure in this book. Don't get me wrong, like I said, the words are clear and distinct and the voice quality is professional-sounding, so can't really give the narration a low rating despite it's drawbacks.
At the end of it, I enjoyed this book and if not for the "culture mangling demerit", this book would have garnered a higher rating with me.
Gollancz Geek Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 4 Character development = 4.5 Story itself = 4 Ending = 4 World building = 4.5 Cover art = 2.5 Pace = (8hrs & 55mins) Plot = 4 Narrator = 4 Culture mangling demerit = -1
It took me a bit of time to get into the story. The first few chapters were a week-long struggle. But once past Mount Athos it got quicker. Mo...moreReview:
It took me a bit of time to get into the story. The first few chapters were a week-long struggle. But once past Mount Athos it got quicker. More interesting... As I was reading the book I had this image of Kate Beckett of the Castle TV show as our indomitable FBI Agent Kate O'Hare in my head. The images and scenes just seemed to click and fit together themselves. Or maybe I am just reading/watching too many crime fictions. Which is a really sad state of affairs from a self-professed urban fantasy geek, so why am I reading another crime fiction? I think I can attribute that, this time around, as a testament to the authors' story telling quality to lure me into a genre other than my own. Another evidence that this author dou is as good as Nick Fox at sweet-talking people, is the fact that although the story itself is a bit formulaic which had been played a few times too many around the block, but they still managed to pull it off and sell it as well! You have to give the authors kudos for pulling that kind of stunt! However the story ended with a few loose ends untied. I presume that these will be answered in the next book, which is a bit annoying but at the same time I am also looking forward to reading the next book, not only to get more Nick and Kate action but to see how these loose ends played out.
Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 4 Character development = 3.5 Story itself = 3 Ending = 3.5 World building = 4 Cover art = 3 Pace = 3 Plot = 4
Review: Like Book 1, this book is a slow start too. Unfortunately, so is a few characters' tendencies to be too stupid to live (TSTL)! That, I did not...moreReview: Like Book 1, this book is a slow start too. Unfortunately, so is a few characters' tendencies to be too stupid to live (TSTL)! That, I did not appreciate! However the world building remains beautiful as ever! Similarly to Book 1, this book did not pick up until the very end. I don't know whether the goodness of Sergei Lukyanenko's story telling quality did not translate well into English thus it got lost in translation. Or I simply do not appreciate his story telling abilities in this particular book. Either way, I find the book dragging at times. But the beautiful world of Anton Gorodetsky and my incurable curiosity as to what happens next made me continue reading until the end.
If I break down this book into it's constituent parts, it garners a score of less than three. However if I look at it as a whole, it feels like a 4. So I will give it a four in contradiction to my Empirical Evaluation. It seems like that the adage: "the whole is more than the sum of it's parts", applies to this book well.
Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 2 Character development = 3 Story itself = 1.5 Ending = 3 World building = 5 Cover art = 2 Pace = paperback: 1 (audiobook: 14 hrs and 25 mins listening time) Plot = 1.5 Narrator = 4
This being Book 5, I already know the style of this series, so to speak. So I was looking forward to reading this book even though I am not re...moreReview:
This being Book 5, I already know the style of this series, so to speak. So I was looking forward to reading this book even though I am not really a fan of Jason. From his appearances in previous books, he was alright I guess, but he didn't exactly shine or inspire a reader to want to know more about him. He was very easily forgettable. Then all of a sudden we have him showcased in his very own book. Okey, fine. The author writes what she wants to write. As a fan of this author and of this series, I would still buy Jason from that point of view alone. Anyway, I went into this book wanting to like it and I found that I did liked it. But also found myself needing lots of breaks from the book. That came as a surprise for me because normally Nalini Singh's story telling quality grabs me by the throat and drags me into the story and don't let go until the very last page. It made the pace of this book a bit longer than expected. Now, let's talk about covers. I like the US cover. It is appropriate to the story and it pings my fantasy geek radar. The UK cover however is rather a bit too bland and doesn't really suit the story. What is that cover all about?!! Just because the story got lots of angels in it doesn't mean you can just slap an angel wing tattoo on to it and that's that. As a marketing tool, it's a miserable failure. Anyway, unsuitable cover or not, I still enjoyed this book and looking forward to reading the next book in this series!
Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 4 Character development = 4.5 Story itself = 5 Ending = 4 World building = 4.5 Cover art = UK: 1.5 / US: 4.5 Pace = 3.5 Plot = 4.5
I like the world building and the premise. After all I am an urban fantasy girl, so vampires, magicians, and sh...moreReview (UK paperback & audiobook):
I like the world building and the premise. After all I am an urban fantasy girl, so vampires, magicians, and shapeshifters are totally sold on me. I also like the way Sergei Lukyanenko presented good and evil in the book. That one is pure poetic brilliance! What I didn't like was the plot depending on the hero to behave stupidly to create a dilemma in the story. Rather pathetic plot building skills there. So the boss clearly and carefully instructed Anton not to be alone. Not even for a single second. Even told him the reason why so that he would cooperate more fully. So what does our hero does the first chance he gets? He walks off alone so that the bad guys can frame him for murder. Yep, too stupid to live (TSTL)! Walked right into the trap whistling a tune (so to speak). To be fair though the story narrative did emphasize that Anton is a lousy field operative. First Garik made him that something is wrong. Then Svetlana. When Anton is suppose to be better than that because he is supposed to be an experienced field operative with years of training. One thing you can say about it though is that there is character development consistency! Even though, I still find the TSTL royally annoying! Then the story telling quality drags at times. For the first three quarters into the book I had to stretch my perseverance because I found myself wanting breaks from it. Such that even with the convenience of the audiobook it still took me two weeks or so to finish the book. I didn't appreciate the story until the very end. Now am looking forward to reading Book 2.
When I take the book apart in the Empirical Evaluation the book ought to score only a 3 out of 5 but when I look at the book as a whole, it feels like a 4. So am giving it a 4 in contradiction to my empirical evaluation. This don't usually happen, but sometimes the whole is more than the sum of it's parts.
Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 3 Character development = 3 Story itself = 4.5 Ending = 4.5 World building = 4 Cover art = 3 Pace = paperback: 1.5 (audiobook: 14 hrs and 44 mins listening time) Plot = 2 Narrator = 4
Narrative Evaluation: (Please note that my copy is a paperback and an audible audiobook.) The reason I picked this book up was because I wanted to giv...moreNarrative Evaluation: (Please note that my copy is a paperback and an audible audiobook.) The reason I picked this book up was because I wanted to give Kathy Reichs another go after the disappointment with Déjà Dead. And once again we see snarky and humorous remarks here that I liked about Déjà Dead. In fact we see more of it here than there ever was in Déjà Dead, so not a bad start. Not bad at all! I don't know whether that was Brendan Reichs' influence or Kathy Reichs just upped the humour. Or a combination of both. Either way, it brought this book's rating up a notch. By the way, speaking of Brendan Reichs, he is credited to be a co-author of this book and of this series by some sources but my paperback copy of this book does not mention him at all. Maybe later editions of this book bears his name and I must have bought an earlier edition or something. But it sure feels weird though that my book does not have his name in it. Whether or not it is Brendan Reichs' influence, this book has restored my faith in Kathy Reichs' work. Maybe Déjà Dead was not her best and hopefully she improved as a writer as she wrote along, so I would read another of her work again.
Another thing good about this book is the narration. I like Cristin Milioti's voice. It sounds young and fits a YA book. The words are clear and the diction perfect. She also reads with her own brand of pizzazz which adds an enriching flavour to the listening experience! At the end of it, I enjoyed this book and looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
Empirical Evaluation: Story telling quality = 4.5 Character development = 4 Story itself = 4 Ending = 4 World building = 4.5 Cover art = 3 Pace = N/A (9 hrs and 41 mins of listening time) Plot = 4 Narrator = 5