Monday, February 15, 2010

Heyer love

The Quiet Gentleman The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It seems to be the case that the Georgette Heyer I love the most is the one I'm currently reading. Having said that, I will also state that I found this story just adorable. The experience was enhanced by Cornelius Garrett's fabulous reading. I particularly enjoyed the voices of servants, from the self-important valet, to the provincial grooms, to the mysterious Mr Leek. The character of The Dowager provides much comedy, and is a highlight of Garrett's reading. I did not find the predictability of the story to detract from my enjoyment at all, and found the whole experience to be both enjoyable and satisfying.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another three...

...books knocked off in the last few days. I don't think I've chewed through books this fast since I was a teen. All Charlaine Harris, and I'm certain that there's another one (or possibly more) waiting for me. I don't have it in my hands just yet, so I'm just wondering what to pick up next...

Shakespeare's Christmas (Lily Bard Mystery, #3) Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly Mystery, #3) An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shame there's only 4 in this series. I'm enjoying them very much. Seems the more Charlaine Harris I read, the more I like her. Her characters are always so interesting.

Grave Secret (A Harper Connelly Mystery, #4) Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent conclusion to the series. I think I actually gasped at the big reveal at the end of this one. Sorry to see the back of this cast of characters - especially Manfred, who seemed to just be picking up some momentum.

I think that gives me eleven for the month.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Edward IV goes corporate

The Ravenscar Dynasty The Ravenscar Dynasty by Barbara Taylor Bradford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
To be honest, I'm a bit ambivalent about this one. I don't know how many of the disappointments with this book are due to abridgment. Further, there were aspects of the CD that marred my enjoyment of the audiobook. Perhaps I'll start with that, before reflecting on the content.
The narrator had a pleasant enough voice, one which I couldn't help thinking wouldn't sound out of place reading children's stories on the radio. Because of the abridgment (one presumes) there were no chapter demarcations, and I found that there were insufficient pauses or breaks between scenes. Sometimes it was not immediately apparent that one scene had ended and another had begun. The most disorienting was one that went straight from a seduction to... well, I can't for the life of me what it went to, but I was left going "Huh???" and had to do a bit of a rewind to work out what was going on. This happened on several occasions. There was no "end on disk" announcement, and -listening as I do in my car - several times it took me a few minutes to work out that the disk had ended and gone back to play track one again. On the plus side, there was a very nice little interview with the author at the end of the recording.
As for the book itself... well. As I may have mentioned previously, I got the book out of the library when it was first released, read about a chapter, and then had to take it back because that had taken me a month, and there were other people waiting for it. I'd been interested because it was based on Edward IV, and I'm a Yorkist fan-girl. Maybe that meant I knew too much. All the way through I found myself questioning if stuff that was missing (e.g. Henry VI being restored to the throne) was missing from the book, or just lost in the abridgment. Certainly some of the colour and detail has been lost in the abridgment - the blurb says the book is "a dramatic saga that brings to life the glittering Edwardian Era" Um... no. Not this version of the book, anyhow. We also don't really get the full effect of Edward being a womanizer - rather he seems to have a series of mistresses that he's pretty faithful to, rather than being a rake who can't keep his trousers on!
So as far as audiobooks go, I suggest you give this one a miss. An unabridged version may be preferable, if one is available, or of course the actual book. However I don't see myself chasing down the remaining 2 books in the series, even if at least one of them must deal with the equivalent character to Richard III.

Being totally cheeky and counting this toward the historical fiction challenge as it is based on a chunk of English history. So there!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Assorted doings

Well, I've decided that although I'm not actually going to write 'proper' reviews of every book I read, I should at least maybe keep a bit of a record. Yes, I have a record over at Goodreads, true, but part of being a completist is having one here too. I thought I might chuck a bit of a record of what I've seen at the cinema, too. I'm not planning on breaking my 2004 record of 50 trips to the cinema (not 50 movies, however. That effort included 3 rounds of "Return of the King."), but it would be nice to be able to look back at the end of the year and see them all listed in one place. Shan't be rating or reviewing - just recording.

Books read, but without their own post.

Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Mystery, #1) Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Took me about half the book to warm to Lily (or really give a monkey's cuss about the story), but enjoyed it very much by the end.

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1) Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh, this was good. More of a paranormal chick-lit than paranormal romance. And some truly funny lines. Even tho I guessed who the bad guy was (and I suck at doing that, so it must of been really obvious) I didn't work out the motive. I'll definitely be reading more from Molly Harper - just as soon as I've cleared a bit of the backlog of my TBR stack!

The Tent, the Bucket and Me The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Really enjoyed this - I'm the same age as the author, so the pop-culture references from the '70's were particularly resonant. At times I wasn't quite sure if to laugh or cringe. Poor Emma. I'm so grateful my parents graduated to caravan holidays while I was still quite young!

Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly Mystery, #2) Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Enjoyed this every bit as much as the first in the series. Harris presents us with such wonderful characters.


Seen so far this year:

The Time Traveler's Wife
Sherlock Holmes
Up in the Air
It's Complicated

Wow, 5 so far, and not even the end of January. Perhaps I need a single post to stick them all in. Hmmm....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Helikaon Did Next...

Yeah, another goodreads review. I'm sure it's not really cheating...

Shield of Thunder (Troy #2) Shield of Thunder by David Gemmell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Finished this a day or two ago, and have finally knocked a very short review together...

Ah. Book 2 in the series. Significantly darker than the Lord of the Silver Bow, but no less gripping. We see Odysseus, trapped by consequences of actions taken for the best of motives, forced into an alliance with Agamemnon against those he considered his friends. The transformation of Odysseus, the neutral trader, into The Sacker of Cities is as tragic as it is inevitable. The supporting cast of characters are sharply drawn, and full of life and complexity. Some of the minor characters from Book 1 come to the forefront; most charming of these is Banokles, a simple warrior who in the second half of the book unexpectedly finds himself in a position of leadership. We also meet Achilles for the first time, and it’s not flattering. I’ll be interested to see where this character goes in the third book. Sadly, that's going to have to wait a bit longer, as fate has thrown a few other urgent reads in my path.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Heel! Fetch! Play dead!

Must Love Hellhounds (Includes: Guild Hunters, #1.5; The Guardians, #9) Must Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is only the 3rd of these anthologies I've read, and this has to be the most consistently good so far. I picked this one up primarily for the Charlaine Harris and the Nalini Singh. I'd never read any Ilona Andrews or Meljean Brook previously, and was pleasantly surprised by how good both these stories were. I found the setting of "Magic Mourns" quite intriguing, and I'm delighted to see that my local library has the 3 novels so far published from that series, and number 4 on order. (oh great. more books for the TBR pile.)
The Britlingens Go To Hell was an interesting and very enjoyable diversion into another dimension. Charlaine Harris is yet to disappoint me. Angels' Judgment took me a little by surprise as I'd not realised it was a prequel to Angels' Blood. Good stuff, and has done nothing to dull my anticipation of Archangels' Kiss.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ok, perhaps I went a wee bit overboard with this one

The Dark Highlander (Highlander, #5) The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Man I found this book annoying, and on a number of levels.
The story... well, I thought the story was quite interesting. But then there was the "If I don't get a regular shag, I'll turn EVOL!!" plot thread... yeah, right. Is that the best pickup line you can come up with? I'm sure it must be a metaphor for something. But that was a minor irritant.
In the end, the thing that most annoyed me about this book was the way the author seemed to treat her readers like we're idiots. Typically, she'd give some dialogue and action, then spend the next how-many-paragraphs explaining what that dialogue and action meant - like we couldn't work that out for ourselves. One (minor, brief) example: (can't be bothered scanning through the CD to transcribe directly) Chloe is described dressing in crumpled trousers and the first top that comes to hand. We are then told she didn't care what she was wearing... amazingly, I'd managed to make that inference myself from the description of what she put on. This kind of thing happened again and again - boring and tedious writing. Sadly, I had the audiobook - if I had a paper copy of the book I might have just skimmed over that tedious rubbish to get to the next bit that actually advanced the story.
The next annoying thing the author did was to give us the same scene twice from two different points of view... which might have been interesting if the second perspective had added anything to the story except more words. Instead it was usually just another chance to be bashed over the head with more explicit blethering on about stuff the reader pretty much had a firm understanding of.
Thirdly, towards the end there was a tendency to remind the reader of the whole plot so far. Our lead characters played over in their minds a kaleidoscope of scenes from earlier in the book. BORING!!!! I've listened to the whole effing book already!!! I don't need to be reminded what happened after the shower, or on the aeroplane, or by the waterfall, or on the stone bench in the garden. I read that bit!!!! I don't need to be reminded of the depth, width or thickness of the love the characters feel for each other - I read that bit too!!! If this is supposed to crank up the angst, it's not working, not for me anyhow.
On a technical (annoying) note I also found her sliding between present and past tense during a scene, in much the same way as I'm doing in this review... but I don't have an editor to proof it for me, nor is writing this review my job. I'm not a really picky reader - this is the first time I've ever actually noticed this in a book.
Oooh! and I thought of another one... referencing one of one's own novels in another of one's books is cheap, not clever. Having two characters discuss how awesome romance books are... just made me feel dirty. More than annoying.
Somewhere in a previous review, someone asks why the women in these types of book are so often virgins. My question is why the blokes are always hung like some kind of large stock animal. (No! he's hung like TWO horses!) Great emphasis was also put on the fact that the lass in this story was a tiny wee thing. So, what is she, a tardis? Is the er... contrast supposed to be extra arousing??? Actually, that doesn't work for me either.
The final thing I want to comment on is the voice of the narrator - or rather the performer - of the audiobook. His voice was generally pleasant, and his scots accent was very nice. The tendency for American pronunciation of some words to be different to NZ irked on occasion. Sadly the voice he used for Chloe, the heroine of the story just about drove me nuts, and made a lot of her dialoge sound trivial, ridiculous, affected, and generally superficial. Even if there were other audiobooks in this series available at my local library I don't think I'd bother with them. I'm rather curious to find if a non-audiobook from this author might be less annoying to me. I'm also aware that at least one other reviewer has commented that the quantity of "filler narration" is higher in this book than is usual for this author. So don't be too surprised if - even after this rather negative review - I give Karen Marie Moning another try. Just not yet.

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