Started the audiobook version of this novel - It picks up right where Leviathanleft off - with Alek and Deryn onboard the the airship, bound for Const...moreStarted the audiobook version of this novel - It picks up right where Leviathanleft off - with Alek and Deryn onboard the the airship, bound for Constantinople on an unspecified mission.
Alan Cumming is the narrator once again and such a treat to listen to! The Austrian accents of Alek and his cohorts, Deryn's Scottish brogue (and slang - "Barking Spiders!" is my new favorite expletive!) and he's added an American to the mix. tho Eddie Malone sounds a bit 1930's film noir vs the actual timeline of the book (late 1914).
Once again, Alan Cumming is doing an amazing job as the narrator - The setting of Istanbul adds some intriguing elements to the story; both the real-life events (the theft/non-delivery of the Osman, for example) and the more fantastic, like the iron golems and mechanical war elephants. The Perspicacious Loris is a wonderful addition to the cast - can't wait till Alek and Deryn discover its potential!
I'm currently captivated by the audiobook of this novel, which I checked out from the library after seeing C.S.'s 5 star review.
Carolyn McCormick (wh...moreI'm currently captivated by the audiobook of this novel, which I checked out from the library after seeing C.S.'s 5 star review.
Carolyn McCormick (who also narrated The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset trilogy) is striking just the right tone with the protagonist, a rather unreliable narrator herself.
I'm loving the whole un-real feel of the story so far ... The protagonist is part of the 12th expedition into Area X, a no-mans-land abandoned some 30 years previously for an officially undisclosed reason; previous expeditions weren't necessarily successful.
She and her compatriots (no names, just roles- she is the Biologist) have discovered a feature not on their maps... a tunnel (no, a Tower) that leads underground. We learn the story, as well as the Biologist's background bit by bit... and the tension is building nicely. I'm glad I didn't know/remember a lot about the story before I started - most everything has been a surprise so far.(less)
Skip gave 3 stars & Julie gave 2: SDMB recco Lasciel "Incarceron is amazing. It's inventive, creepy, the settings are monumental and clever, and t...moreSkip gave 3 stars & Julie gave 2: SDMB recco Lasciel "Incarceron is amazing. It's inventive, creepy, the settings are monumental and clever, and the characters act in 'natural' ways for their backgrounds and environments. Sapphique takes the concept, dials it up to 11 without structural support, shits on the settings, turns interesting characters into a copy-and-paste love triangle, and contradicts everything the reader and characters learned from the first book. "(less)
Thanks to a mention in the "Top Ten Books You Read in 2013" thread over on the SDMB, I checked out the audiobook version of this novel from the local...moreThanks to a mention in the "Top Ten Books You Read in 2013" thread over on the SDMB, I checked out the audiobook version of this novel from the local library. While I missed out on the illustrations by Randall Wright, I did quite enjoy the narration by Katharine Kellgren (she could read the phone book and I'd listen!) with Robin Sachs contributing the Charles Dickens interludes.
Skilley, a street cat living in Victorian London schemes his way into a mousing job at the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese inn, despite not actually wanting to eat mice at all. He finds an ally in Pip, a mouse residing at the inn who has some unusual talents. Together, they deal with a missing "person" whose disappearance has potential foreign relation repercussions. They must also cope with a cranky cook and a an evil tomcat bent on exposing their friendship as well as the secrets of the mice of the inn. Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance as a frequenter of the inn and an astute observer of the animals' interactions.
It is a middle grade book - aimed at 8-10 year olds, so the story isn't terribly complex, but still quite charming. Adults will get the references to Dickens and Wilkie Collins, while kids will enjoy the story of the friendship between the mouse and the cat, which develops organically with some bumps along the way. There are some moments of peril and a couple of minor characters die, but it's handled well and there's some good lessons to be learned.
Recommended to fans of animal fantasies and stories for all ages.(less)
I finally finished the audiobook version of of this biography - I started listening during a road trip in December, put it aside to finish another aud...moreI finally finished the audiobook version of of this biography - I started listening during a road trip in December, put it aside to finish another audiobook in progress, then the weather has cut into my normal audiobook listening time (aka dog walking). Finally, I'd put off listening to the last chapter for about a week, as I knew I'd be a sobbing mess. Jim Henson's untimely death still seems terribly unfair to me; despite the great legacy he left behind.
Jones does a masterly job of sharing Henson's life story; the level of detail is amazing, but not (IMHO) at all dry or overwhelming. He obviously interviewed many of the men and women who knew Jim well; and provides some of their biographical info along the way, when pertinent.
Kirby Heyborne narrated the biography, and did his best to emulate the voices of the directly quoted individuals. His Jim & Kermit imitations are quite good, and for me, added to the overall experience.
Highly recommended to any fan who would like to know more about the man behind the Muppetverse.(less)
I listened to the audiobook version of this novel last month and was hoping to re-watch the film before writing this review, but thought I'd better g...more I listened to the audiobook version of this novel last month and was hoping to re-watch the film before writing this review, but thought I'd better get something written down before it fades even further from memory :^)
This is, of course, the novel the first Bond movie was based on (but the 6th Bond novel), and EON Productions remained relatively true to the book, IMHO. Sure, they changed the island from a guano production site to a bauxite mine, but that's understandable. And I don't think they could have filmed the torture test that Bond goes thru, at least not in 1962 (from both a technical and moral standpoint).
However, I do wish they had kept more of the characterization of Honey(chile) Ryder - who was the most well-rounded, independent Bond girl yet. While Ms. Andress was quite lovely (no chance of showing her with a broken nose!) and competent in the role, she was a pale copy of the Honey I came to admire in the novel. She was a naif, yet self-assured and strong, and I'd love to see her portrayed more accurately on screen.
This is Bond's second mission in Jamaica, and it was nice to see him work with Quarrel again (even though it ended badly). It was supposed to be an easy case, as Bond had nearly died at the end of From Russia With Love and was sent to investigate the disappearance of the local contact as a "rest cure"; tho Bond himself found it a bit insulting.
It was interesting to see some friction between Bond and M (something we didn't really see in the films until Dench came along). I also was impressed with the backstory provided for Doctor No - his history with a Chinese Tong and his punishment leading him to seek power via secrecy. This was pretty much skimmed over in the film in favor of associating him with SPECTRE.
I'd definitely agree with some other reviewers in that Bond makes some stupid mistakes/decisions and has stupendous luck, but I found this outing quite enjoyable and will probably return to the novel again (along with the film). I'm quite looking forward to Goldfinger next! (less)
I spent about the last month with the audiobook this novel, courtesy of the local library. I wasn't sure if I liked the idea of a follow up to The Shi...moreI spent about the last month with the audiobook this novel, courtesy of the local library. I wasn't sure if I liked the idea of a follow up to The Shining, but Stevie done good with this one. He even threw in a reference to NOS4A2!
After an interlude set a few years after the events at the Overlook hotel, we fast-forward to Dan Torrance as an adult - a poorly functioning adult at that. An alcoholic (not too surprising) drifting from job to job across the eastern US - he washes up in a small New Hampshire town after hitting bottom. We also meet a young girl - Abra - whose "shining" is stronger than Danny's - so strong, in fact, it brings her to the attention of Rose the Hat and the True Knot. And you do NOT want to be brought to their attention.
Dan's journey thru alcoholism to sobriety (via AA) certainly seems a good example of "write what you know" - King may have been exorcising some of his own demons here. Abra is well-written, and even supporting characters like Billy and Dr. John feel like real people. Rose the Hat is a worthy addition to the King stable of baddies, fitting right in with Pennywise and The Walking Man. The callbacks to The Shining are present, but not obtrusive; having read the book (or seen the film) is useful, but probably not mandatory - general pop culture knowledge would be basically sufficient, I think.
I really enjoyed this novel and will be picking up a copy for myself eventually. Will Patton did a great job with the narration - I especially liked Billy Freeman's New Hampshire accent! He handled Momo Concetta and Abra quite well, too. (less)
I quite enjoyed the audiobook of Who Could that Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket - it's the start of a new series, apparently - YA similar to A Seri...moreI quite enjoyed the audiobook of Who Could that Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket - it's the start of a new series, apparently - YA similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events but told in first person, as it's supposedly Snicket's adventures as a young man.
Set very much "in media res", there's a lot of unanswered questions (possibly wrong ones), but the style is as amusing as ever, if you're into this sort of thing. Both the story and characters are entertaining, IMHO, and the world building is wonderfully quirky! Liam Aiken's narration is just how I expected Lemony Snicket (as a world-weary tween) would sound. (less)
An audiobook I quite enjoyed recently was Frames, the first in the Valentino mystery series by Loren D. Estleman. I read the third in the series -- Al...moreAn audiobook I quite enjoyed recently was Frames, the first in the Valentino mystery series by Loren D. Estleman. I read the third in the series -- Alive! -- back in July and really enjoyed it, so thought I'd go back to the beginning. Valentino (named after the film star with some resemblance, apparently) is a UCLA film archivist who's not averse to going the extra mile to track down rare reels from Hollywood's early years. He buys a decrepit movie palace (against his better judgement) only to discover what could be a jackpot - the long lost reels of the original version of Erich von Stroheim's silent masterpiece Greed. Unfortunately, the discovery results in a potential homicide investigation and Valentino, along with his mentor, and a feisty co-ed law student, find themselves in a race against time to help solve the case and save the film from potential destruction. Oh - and did I mention von Stroheim himself makes a otherworldly appearance or two?
I only dabble in the mystery genre - there has to be some other hook to spark my interest - in this case it's the classic film connection. I'm a minor film buff, and would like to learn more about the Golden Age of Hollywood. Valentino is a well-written character, and the plot stays on the lighter side of the genre - no lives are on the line, and I don't think a single gun is brandished anywhere in the novel. The supporting characters have their fun quirks, and there's just a touch of romance along the way. William Dufris did a great job as the narrator - I especially liked his Broadhead performance!
I'm looking forward to reading the middle novel in the series - Alone - fairly soon. (less)
Just finished the audiobook - Ian Fleming's fifth Bond novel....tho you'd hardly know it at first. Mr. Bond doesn't even rate a mention until the end...moreJust finished the audiobook - Ian Fleming's fifth Bond novel....tho you'd hardly know it at first. Mr. Bond doesn't even rate a mention until the end of Chapter 5, and doesn't appear in person til Chapter 11. Fleming spends the first portion of the book building up a SMERSH plot aimed not only at taking out Bond, but damaging the Service as well.
I don't want to do a full review until I've had a chance to re-watch the film (tho, from what I vaguely recall, there's not a lot in common), but I did want to say I enjoyed how the review of Bond's dossier by the Russians referenced the previous novels. Fleming also wraps up certain ... elements ... of Diamonds Are Forever in a way which makes this novel's plot more believable.
I quite enjoyed Darko Karim's character - I think he and Leiter would have gotten along quite well. Tatiana Romanova is still more a plot point than a well-rounded character, but at least she has a bit of personality. I wasn't expecting the novel to end the way it did (again, from a vague recollection of the film) and am finding it hard to not dive right into Doctor No to see what happens next. (less)
I downloaded a free audiobook version of this novel early last month, thanks to www.audiobooksync.com - I wasn't familiar with the story or the author...moreI downloaded a free audiobook version of this novel early last month, thanks to www.audiobooksync.com - I wasn't familiar with the story or the author, but the description intrigued me.
This book is set in an alternate-history Dickensian England, some time after an invasion by the Fairy Folk and the Smiling War (so named due to the innumerable grinning skulls in the aftermath of the fighting). The humans and the Fairy Folk have come to an uneasy truce, with highborn members of the Fae as representatives in Parliament, but each group generally keeps to themselves. What mixing there has been resulted in The Peculiars - half-breed children scorned by both groups.
Bartholomew Kettle is one of these Peculiars - living a semi-secluded life in the fairy slums of Bath. However, strange goings-on in his neighborhood may somehow be connected with a string of half-breed children being found in the Thames as empty sacks of skin. Arthur Jelliby, a somewhat feckless junior member of Parliament finds himself in danger after accidentally stumbling upon another part of this same sinister plot. He becomes a reluctant hero, eventually teaming up with Bartholomew to save England from disaster.
The world-building is a fun mix of fantasy and steampunk - and quite British. Apparently there's some connection between Bath and the supernatural, as this is the second novel I've read recently that has strange goings-on there (The Rook is the other). This novel reminds me a lot of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - a YA version of that world, if you will. I am a bit embarrassed that I didn't realize the first few times that the narrator referenced "the she" - he meant "the Sidhe" - guess I'd only ever read the word before!
I really got to like Arthur - he turned out to be quite brave, despite his nebbishy start. Bartholomew also showed some nice character development. Both protagonists are pretty well-rounded, and the villains of the story were also well-written. The plot goes along well - no huge surprises or reveals along the way, but there's some fun bits of action. My only complaint was the narrator's vocal choice for the Fairy characters - high and grating & not very pleasant to listen to.
I'd recommend the novel to fans of period urban fantasy looking for something on the light side. (less)
I picked up this YA novel per a SDMB recco & despite Skip's 2 star review. Apparently the intro to a new...moreSkip gave 2 stars; SDMB recco: Barking Dog
I picked up this YA novel per a SDMB recco & despite Skip's 2 star review. Apparently the intro to a new series, as it's not set in either the same world as Fforde's Tuesday Next books, or the Nursery Crimes; but in a similarly skewed British Isles - here referred to as the Ununited Kingdom.
We meet Jennifer Strange, an indentured foundling who is the current first in command of Kazam - an employment agency for magicians. The actual first in command has gone missing, and since the wizidrical power in the world is slowly drying up, so is their business. A prediction of the death of the Last Dragon at the hands of an unknown Dragonslayer throws Jennifer's life upside down. With her faithful Quarkbeast ("9/10th velociraptor and kitchen blender and 1/10th Labrador") at her side, she finds herself entwined in some very Big Magic indeed.
While it's marketed as a Young Adult book - it's a fun romp for any age, in my opinion. Fforde's quirky sense of humor runs rampant thru the novel, but Jennifer is a down to earth heroine who reminds me a bit of Pratchett's Tiffany Aching (even if Jennifer herself can't do magic). Worldbuilding is something Fforde excels at (tho as a Yank, I occasionally feel I'm missing some of the in-jokes) and his supporting characters are quite enjoyable. The second in the series - The Song of the Quarkbeast - is due out next month & I'm quite looking forward to it. I listened to the audiobook version (performed wonderfully well by Elizabeth Jasicki) and bought the Kindle version as it is on sale this month - definitely worth the $2.00! (less)
After attending a James Bond film festival last April, I decided I should give the original novels a whirl - I've seen all the "official" Bond film at...moreAfter attending a James Bond film festival last April, I decided I should give the original novels a whirl - I've seen all the "official" Bond film at least once, I think, and was curious to see where and how they differed. I was in luck, as the Indiana Digital Media e-library had several of the Bond novels available in audiobook format, and the ones it didn't, the local library did.
My latest Bond read was this novel, next in the series, publication-order-wise. The screen adaptation is a few notches above Moonraker, as more of the characters appear (Wint & Kidd, Tiffany Case, Shady Trees), they both use Las Vegas as a setting, and the basic plot of Bond tracking down diamond smugglers is true to the novel.
However, the villain is not Blofeld, but rather the Spangled Mob, an American gang run by two brothers, Jack and Seraffimo Spang. The film also adds in the whole Willard Whyte subplot, whereas the novel spends some time sending Bond up to Saratoga New York, where, in order to receive his payment for assisting Tiffany Case in smuggling the diamonds (in golf balls, not a corpse), he is told to bet on a ringer horse.
Conveniently, Felix Leiter (minus a few body parts, thanks to the events of the previous novel), who now works for Pinkerton's is also pursuing the Spangled Mob, albeit from a different angle. I preferred this subplot, as well as the later interactions between Bond, Case and Seraffimo Spang.
Tiffany Case (who has a reasonable explanation for her cutesy name) is much more capable in the novel than in the film, IMHO. Bond actually seems to be falling for her, at one point imagining what a future with her might be like. Wint and Kidd are somewhat quirkier in the film than the novel; I wonder if their demise in the novel was originally to be framed as a lovers' quarrel; but the publisher blanched at that, so Fleming added in the card game. (I didn't catch on to their relationship in the first viewing or two of the film - I just thought they were strange.)
Fleming continues to develop Bond's character, allowing him to become more complex. His friendship with Leiter is well-portrayed, and Bond's concern for civilians caught in the crossfire is something not really displayed in the films. Spectreville (no connection to SPECTRE that I could detect) was an intriguing setting, and there were some great action sequences that would translate very well to film.
Again, I wish there were a way to get a Bond film made that more closely adhered to the original story, instead of heading towards the campy territory of the Moore period. Yes, Diamonds are Forever was a Connery film, but it was his last, and probably his worst, at least of the EON Production films. (We won't discuss Never Say Never Again)
This is another Bond novel I will probably return to again; possibly watching the film again concurrently, if only to see Wint and Kidd's portrayal again. (less)