Showing posts with label audio book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label audio book. Show all posts

Book Review — The Talisman

Title:  The Talisman
Authors:  Stephen King & Peter Straub
Genre:  Fantasy, horror, coming-of-age
Published:  November 8, 1984
Publisher:  Viking


"Jack Sawyer, twelve years old, is about to begin a most fantastic journey, an exalting, terrifying quest for the mystical Talisman—the only thing that can save Jack’s dying mother. But to reach his goal, Jack must make his way not only across the breadth of the United States but also through the wondrous and menacing parallel world of the Territories.

"In the Territories, Jack finds another realm, where the air is so sweet and clear a man can smell a radish being pulled from the ground a mile away—and a life can be snuffed out instantly in the continuing struggle between good and evil. Here Jack discovers “Twinners,” reflections of the people he knows on earth—most notably Queen Laura, the Twinner of Jack’s own imperiled mother. As Jack “flips” between worlds, making his way westward toward the redemptive Talisman, a sequence of heart-stopping encounters challenges him at every step."

~ Amazon

As with a lot of the books I end up reading, my brother has been pestering me to read this one for quite a long time.  Considering that it is a lengthy book, I never got around to it.  However, after some though and coercion from my dad, audio book sounded like a good solution.  Running on the treadmill goes by a lot faster when you have a book read to you.  In addition, it makes shovel god-awful amounts of snow off your a driveway and walk that much easier.  And, with length in mind, the audio book was over twenty-four hours!  Eep!

After his father's untimely death, Jack Sawyer's mother, Lily, uproots him from California and settles in Arcadia Beach, New Hampshire.  Since his mother is a famous Hollywood actress and rather unobservant, Jack is left to his own devices most days.  However, while this may seem like a carefree existence, Jack discovers that his mother is dying from cancer.  In a desperate effort to save her, he learns of an object called the Talisman that will cure her.

Setting out from New Hampshire, Jack travels across the country and through the parallel universe of the Territories.  He is helped along the way by Speedy Parker, an old friend, and Wolf, a werewolf.  Through his adventures, Jack learns his connection to the Territories, the dangerous game someone close to him is playing, and the role he must take in relation to both worlds.

Wow, I wasn't even sure what to expect when I started this book.  At some level, due to the age of the character, I figured it would be a coming of age story.  And, given the type of genre these authors write, it made sense that it would be a little more unusual and strange.  That being said, wow . . . This book is extremely hard to describe, it has multiple levels of complexity running through it, hard choices, and so on.  Yes, it does have all the elements of a coming-of-age story; however, it goes deeper and takes a grittier and darker approach.

The characters and settings in this book were amazing, vivid, and detailed!  At times, I was left wondering whether the Territories actually existed.  The authors did a wonderful job making everything tangible and real.  The imagery of the people flying off of the tower, the Blasted Lands, and the vines wrapping around Jack's legs will stay with me forever.  Further, even the minor characters were fully developed.  The old trainer operator—I think his name was Anders—felt as though he was an old and established character.  I liked how each of the twinners would appear in both worlds.  When Jack happens across Snowball outside the mall, I was surprised at his real identity.

The narrative styling and audio book narrator gave them book a magical quality.  Granted, it was very, very dark and brutal at times.  Something about Jack's youth, the way he saw things, the Talisman, and flipping between lands really made it feel as though it was a fairy tale.  And, if it is one, it is definitely in the same vein as the old and grisly ones.

Even though there were times when the book felt daunting due to the length, there was never a dull moment!  Near the end of his time at the Sunlight Gardner Home, I almost had to stop running on the treadmill to cry!  The book really pulls on your heart strings.  The story was amazing, the setting beautiful, and the characters masterfully crafted.  Even with the fairy tale elements, this book is not for the faint of heart.

Current Pages: 3714
Current Progress:

15/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Living Dead in Dallas

Title:  Living Dead in Dallas
Author:  Charlaine Harris
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Published:  March 2002
Publisher:  Ace Books

"Sookie Stackhouse likes living in Bon Temps, Louisiana, and she likes working as a cocktail waitress at Merlotte's. But she is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it).

"The point is: the vampires saved her life. So when one of her bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges-and soon Sookie's in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed. But that's easier than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly . . ."

~ Goodreads

Thoughts:  The only reason this book didn't sit on my shelves after reading Dead Until Dark was the fact that it was in audio book format.  Plus, listening to books while running on the treadmill and lifting weights makes the time go faster.  However, I get rather strange looks when I snort at the dialogue and Sookie's rather ludicrous naïveté/actions.

Honestly, after the disappointment of the first book, I wasn't expecting much with this one.  However, it ended up catching my interest a little more than the first.  Since I have been sick and not going to the gym, it took me a lot longer to get through this book.  And, if I had sat down with it for an extended time, I might have different things to say about it.

For me, the book felt as though it was all over the place.  Sookie meets the maenad briefly in the beginning of the book and receives nasty, poisoned lashings as a message for Eric.  Instead of following that a little more, Harris rushes Sookie and Bill off to Dallas to deal with a kidnapped vampire.  After playing around in Dallas, she comes back to discover the sex club.  I felt that, if done correctly, Harris could have made a whole book on the occurrences in Dallas.  Honestly, she could have done the same with the maenad storyline.  With the switching back and forth, it felt as though there wasn't a complete story.  The fact that the sex club was rather sinister and involved important people was rather interesting, and I would have loved to see it play out.  Further, I couldn't understand the point of having the maenad.  The way Harris introduced her, it felt as though she was going to play a larger role.  As it is, she was just kind of a side character that didn't have too much importance.

The dialogue between Bill and Sookie was still pretty canned and campy.  There was still no real character development of the two, and they remained rather one dimensional.  Plus, their relationship just annoys me.  It seems to be based on sex and nothing else.  I would like a little more substance between them.  And, I'm sorry to say this, I don't like Sookie.

The saving grace was Eric.  I loved that he had more time in the book, and the audience was able to see a different side to his personality.  When he arrived in Lycra, I roared while I was shoveling my driveway!  Even from the HBO series, it is obvious that he has a lot more depth than we have yet to be shown.  Plus, a Viking will always get me excited!  Unfortunately, the narrator for the audio book slipped more into a Transylvanian accent, and I wanted to scream on multiple occasions!  

While this book had it's issues, it shows that they are getting better.  According to a close friend, the series gets progressively better and Eric has a much larger role.  So, with all of that in mind, I will continue to read the books.

Current Progress:
2/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Dead Until Dark

Title:  Dead Until Dark
Author:  Charlaine Harris
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Published:  May 2001
Publisher:  Ace Books

"Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability.' She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome—and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life . . .

"But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of—big surprise—murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next . . ."

~ Jacket copy

Thoughts:  Okay, full disclosure—I have had Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas since the second was published.  Since that time, I have tried again and again to read the first book.  Every time, I get approximately ten to fifteen pages into the book and stop.  To me, the writing was mediocre at best, the dialogue was forced, and I just found it extremely boring.  However, for some reason, I found myself absolutely devouring True Blood when it originally aired on HBO.  Wondering if I could get into the books after watching the show, I started the first book again and stopped . . . again.  After struggling with them for over ten years, I decided to try a final time.  However, my new weapon was listening to them as audio books.  And, honestly, I think that's the only way I got through this book!

Where does one start with this book?  Sookie is the typical blonde, blue-eyed, busty bar-maid that every guy desires.  She doesn't have a lot of money, so it was easy to see that this book would be a Cinderella type story.  While Sookie is a blonde bombshell, her one flaw is her ability to read peoples' minds and see their thoughts.  She goes through the whole book talking about it as a disability.  It has kept her from having many relationships, especially sexual.  She cannot stand the internal dialogue of a man having sex.  However, when Byronic hero Bill enters the picture, she is completely enamored!  He is a vampire; he is tall, dark, and handsome (Byronic hero); he has roots in Bon Temps; and she cannot hear his thoughts!  Unfortunately, there are a series of murders taking place in the small town, and it looks as though Vampire Bill (or all vampires) are going to take the fall for it.  Of course, since that means oh-so-perfect Bill is a possible suspect, Sookie cannot let it go and decides to solve the cases herself.

This book was just annoying.  First of all, it got on my nerves that Sookie had to continually talk about how pretty she was, her ample bosom, her luscious blonde hair, tiny waist, etc.  In addition, her one flaw turns out to be an amazing gift and asset.  Further, Sookie talks about how awful her "disability" is when it comes to sex.  How would she know?  She is compared, in looks, to these trashy women being killed; however, she is the beautiful, sainted virgin.  Small town or not, I honestly cannot believe how naive and stupid she is.  At some level, it seems to be intentional.

There was little to no character development in the book.  Sookie never moved beyond the one dimensional hot Barbie look-alike.  Bill is rather dull and has nothing special to set him apart.  In some ways, he reminded me of Christian Grey.  All that the audience really knows is that he was turned after the Civil War, he was married, grew up in Bon Temps, and a few assorted facts.  Why, with so little knowledge, is Sookie professing her undying devotion and love to Bill?  Talk about the doe-eyed idiot.

The dialogue left a lot to be desired.  I found myself snorting at the sex scenes, which got me weird looks at the gym.  It was ridiculous!  When Sookie's senses where heightened due to vampire blood and she discovered that she could tell Sam's penis was stiffening, I nearly feel off the treadmill.  Really?  Come on, are we all in junior high?

The narrator of this book drove me up a wall!  Why does Eric have a Transylvanian accent?!  He is a Viking!  Reading up on True Blood, the creators originally wanted Alexander Skarsgard to employ his Swedish accent for Eric.  He refused.  He felt that, given Eric's age, he would most likely know multiple languages and have been living in the U.S. for a long time; therefore, he would no longer have an accent.  Further, considering that he is 1,000 years old, if he had an accent, it would be closer to an ancient Scandinavian accent.  If the narrator decided to give him an accent, I would have accepted a modern Scandinavian one; however, as it stand, it was stupid and unbelievable.  And, yes, the Norse are kind of a soapbox for me *sheepish grin*

As it stands, the only way I could make it through this book was because I listened to it at the gym and doing chores.  It was over the top, dull, and one dimensional.  That being said, I have been assured that they get better, so I am currently listening to the second book.  Hopefully they will improve!

Current Pages: 16,010
Current Progress:
54/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Fighting to Survive

Title:  Fighting to Survive
Author:  Rhiannon Frater
Genre:  Post-apocalyptic with zombies
Published:  November 2011
Publisher:  Tor Books
Author Links:  Website  ♠  Twitter

"The hundred or so survivors in the fortified heart of Ashley Oaks are running out of food and room. The newly-renovated historic hotel seems a perfect sanctuary—if can be emptied of zombies.

"A pitched battle in the banquet room is the start of a harrowing, room-by-room struggle from Reception to roof. The connection between beauty and death has never been more apparent to Katie, Travis, Jenni, and Juan than when they celebrate and mourn in the hotel’s lovely rooftop gazebo.

"As search-and-rescue teams bring food, supplies—and more survivors—back to town, they draw unwanted attention. Bandits see the fort’s citizens as competition for dwindling stocks of unspoiled provisions . . . and as a ready source of women to be used and abused. The bandits’ first few attacks are minor skirmishes, but Travis and Juan, unofficial leaders of the community, know there is worse to come.

"Outside threats are not the fort’s only concern. The mayor’s failing health spurs a battle for power erupts. Travis’s vow never to kill faces its greatest test. A vicious assault on Katie leads to vigilante action that shatters the rule of law. Jenni’s tenuous hold on sanity begins to slip. Juan is accused of murder.

"And beyond the fort’s walls, the zombies shamble, moaning, eyes fastened hungrily upon the living."

~ Author's website

Thoughts:  I loved the first book, so we got it for my dad as an audio book.  Since I never got around to buying the second book, he talked me into listening to it.  While I can go through periods of listening to a lot of audio books, I really do not devour them the way he does.  Needless to say, this took me awhile to get through.  Unfortunately, my thoughts are not completely coherent and fully formulated.  Please hang with me on this one!

I was happy to see continued character developments in our favorite heroines, Katie and Jenni.  It was also nice to see how the relationship between Juan and Jenni was progressing and helping her move past her pre-zombies life.  However, as a few people have pointed out, I don't really like the descriptions Frater always relies on.  For example, Nerit is always seen as being cold, Jenni is always loca, and Katie is the one who likes girls.  Granted, it changes for Katie as the story moves along.  But, for me, that took a little away from the story.  After the first book, I would have liked to see Frater branch out a little more with the characterizations, especially since the audience already had some time to get to know them.

Nerit's involvement in this book was stellar!  Since Katie and Jenni first met her on their flight from the city, I have loved the character.  It was nice to get some of her back story.  Being a sharpshooter for the Israeli army really wets the reader's appetite, and I was not disappointed!  However, I would still like to know more.

By biggest beef with the story was the climax and antagonists.  While the zombies appear to be the most visible antagonists, Frater talks about a roaming group of bandits in the first book.  It was rather obvious that she was bringing them back for an encore in this book.  However, it took too longer for the conflict to finally happen.  She dealt with getting the residents of the fort into the hotel, politics, and rescuing survivors for various reasons.  Some of those reasons were the bandits.  They did keep an eye on them and, eventually, lured them out into the open.  But the final conflict was over too quickly and ended to easily.  Yes, life was lost, but it was wrapped up too nicely.

Frater does think a lot about the logistics of a zombie apocalypse.  Even though the bandits did not stay in the picture very long, it made sense that the fort would have to end up dealing with psychopaths.  Not everyone is going to think about banding together and trying to survive.  I also liked that she was very thoughtful about the fact of internal politics in the fort.  People want leadership.  (Although that also ended a little too easily for my tastes.)  Further, I liked her addition of the crazy, conspiracy chaser.  When he asked Nerit out/for sex, I nearly choked!

I enjoyed this book!  At first, the narrator got of my nerves, but she grew on me.  With the ending, I am glad I had the third one ready to go!  There are so many interesting things coming up, and I am curious to see how Frater lets them play them out.

Current Pages: 12,113
Current Progress:

39/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Contagious

Title:  Contagious
Author:  Scott Sigler
Genre:  Thriller
Published:  2009
Publisher:  Broadway
ISBN:  978-0307406323
Author Links:  WebsiteTwitterFacebook

"Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.

"Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors.

"These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all."

~ Goodreads

Thoughts:  Contagious is the sequel to Infected.  It picks up shortly after the first ends.  Margaret Montoya has patched Perry Dawsey, and he has now become part of their team.  Being the only person who can track down the triangles and the gates, he is a huge asset to the team.  However, after his life altering encounter with the triangles, he is more interested in killing the victims than bringing back a live specimen for Margaret and her team to examine.  The book starts out with Perry pretty much going rogue.

After their adventure with Perry, the triangles are now starting to learn an mutate.  Where first they started out as a rash and formed triangle growths on people that would hatch, they have changed into something that is similar to a neural net.  These latest victims are able to infect people with these similar neural nets, and they are charged with protecting the hatchlings.

As with the previous book, this one is jam packed with violence and action.  Honestly, I don't think there really is any downtime in this book.  Sigler used this book to dig deeper into Dawsey and flesh him out as a character.  In the first book, he see him in the middle of a crisis trying to survive this horrible infection.  In this book, however, the reader is able to see a completely different side.  Further, Sigler was also able to pull in some of the periphery characters and bring them to the forefront.

This book seems to go a lot more into the politics of the situation both inside the US government, Margaret's team, and between the infected.  There are a lot of power struggles and questions of ethics.

Contagious is extremely hard to talk about without giving away spoilers.  There are a lot of twists and turns I didn't see coming and a few I did.  Sigler keeps up the pace from the first book, and it felt like a pretty seamless transition between the two.  If you like the first book, I don't think this one will disappoint.

Upon finding out the "virus'" new method of transition, I am anxiously awaiting the third book in the series!

Currently Reading:  Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Current Progress:
32/50 books

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Infected

Title:  Infected
Author:  Scott Sigler
Genre:  Thriller
Published:  2008
Publisher:  Crown Publishing
ISBN:  978-0-307-40610-1
Author Links:  WebsiteTwitterFacebook

"Across America a mysterious disease is turning ordinary people into raving, paranoid murderers who inflict brutal horrors on strangers, themselves, and even their own families.

"Working under the government’s shroud of secrecy, CIA operative Dew Phillips crisscrosses the country trying in vain to capture a live victim. With only decomposing corpses for clues, CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya races to analyze the science behind this deadly contagion. She discovers that these killers all have one thing in common – they’ve been contaminated by a bioengineered parasite, shaped by a complexity far beyond the limits of known science.

"Meanwhile Perry Dawsey – a hulking former football star now resigned to life as a cubicle-bound desk jockey – awakens one morning to find several mysterious welts growing on his body. Soon Perry finds himself acting and thinking strangely, hearing voices . . . he is infected.

"The fate of the human race may well depend on the bloody war Perry must wage with his own body, because the parasites want something from him, something that goes beyond mere murder."
~ Goodreads

Thoughts:  I have seen the book on the shelves for a few years now.  The cover art really drew my attention.  However, I never took the time to pick the book up.  While I was cruising on iTunes for a literature podcast—mostly something related to zombies—to listen to while working on pattern drafting, this popped up as a suggestion.  Only knowing that the podcast got high reviews, I decided to embark on an adventure.

Around the Nation, several people wake up to find a weird rash-like skin irritation.  Some thinking that it is some sort of spider bite or a possible allergic reaction, no one thinks too much off it.  However, once a strange blue hair pops up out of the middle of the irritation, people start to question what is going on.

After someone calls into a local radio station raving about triangles and murdering his family, the government is determined to figure out what is causing seemingly normal people to start killing their families and themselves.  When a relatively fresh corpse arrives in an advanced state of decomposition, the CDC gets involved.

Like the others around the Nation, Perry Dawsey—a former Ohio State football star who has struggled with anger his entire adult life—wakes up to find a strange rash forming on various parts of his body.  However, over the course of a few days, this seemingly benign rash starts to take on the shape of blue triangles.  While this seriously distresses him—especially since one of these triangles is on one of his testicles—it becomes far more disturbing when the triangles start communicating to him and torturing him with severe mind-screams.

At the beginning of each podcast, Sigler warns the audience that the situations are not suitable for children and that there is "lots and LOTS" of violence.  And, I could argue, the warnings might be a little mild!  The blood level escalates throughout the book as Perry tries to surgically remove these triangles in more and more graphic ways.  Be warned, Sigler does not skimp on details!  Even through the bloodiest of the scenes, it is heart-pounding and hard to put down.

Through Perry's struggle, Sigler is able to give the audience a rare look inside a character's head.  He really delves deeply into our desire to survive at all costs.

I felt that Sigler did a good job of balancing CDC and the human side of the story.  The CDC gave an interesting glimpse into a few of the other infected and a general idea of where the "virus" might have come from.  He also does a good job of merging the storylines at the end of the book.

My only problem was the ending.  When I finished listening to the last podcast, I spent hours on iTunes convinced that I missed a download.  Nothing is answered at the end of the book, and you're left hanging.  I wondered whether Sigler was trying to put the audience in the same boat with the CDC.  If so, he did an amazing job.  Luckily, this book does have a sequel, so I am hoping some of the remaining questions are answered.

This book is a fast paced thrill ride.  I had a very hard time walking away from the book and focusing on other things.  I found myself finding every excuse in the world to find reasons to spend time listening to it.  And Sigler is an amazing narrator and lends to the overall mood of the book!

If you're interested in the podcasts of this book, they are free on iTunes.  However, I encourage you to buy the books and give the publishers incentive to publish more in the series!

Currently: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright
Current Pages:
Current Progress:

24/50 books

Much love, Sinn



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