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Search tags: 2-5-stars
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review 2017-08-01 02:12
Rise of the Empire (The Riyria Revelations #3-4) (Audiobook)
Rise of Empire (The Riyria Revelations, #3-4) - Michael J. Sullivan,Tim Gerard Reynolds

Fantasy-lite at its most mediocre. 

 

My lord, that thing was long! Two books in one volume is just too much when the exposition is this dry. On top of that, whoever edited the audiobook decided that splitting chapters up into several smaller, shorter chapters was a good idea. Honestly, I think it just contributed to the feeling of "this is never going to end" that I started getting about halfway through. 

 

I like the characters, and the stars are mostly for them. Hadrian and Royce have good banter, and Arista, Amelia and Modina have some interesting conflicts and personal journeys to go through. Really, the women do have the better part of the story here. The problem I'm having with these is the execution. Characters speak the exposition in the most expositiony way possible. Instead of aiming for subtext and intrigue, the characters continue to spew every thought to their enemies because of course that's the smart thing to do. There are no twists or attempts to subvert tropes. There is an attempt at a cliffhanger at the end of this one, but let's face it - everything will be fine, so I'm not worried.

 

I'm rewatching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer right now and recently got through the season two episode "Lie to Me." At the end, Buffy asks Giles if life ever gets easier and tells Giles to lie to her. He answers:

 

"Yes. It's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and... everybody lives happily ever after."

 

Sullivan seems to be writing his stories with this sentiment in mind, only he forgot the part about it being a lie (with one or two minor exceptions). This is very "what you see is what you get" and maybe it's just the wrong series to be trying to read alongside A Song of Ice and Fire and Young Wizards.

 

Since I did like the first of the prequels, I think I'll go back to those and see if that was one-time fluke or if Sullivan just got better with time. I'll have to debate with myself if I want to bother finishing this original series though. It's just not holding my attention - though that's no fault of the narrator, whose doing the best he can with the material he's been giving and he's probably the only reason the story even has some semblance of life to it. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-11 05:32
The Unsung Hero (Troubleshooters #1) (Audiobook)
The Unsung Hero - Suzanne Brockmann

This audiobook is brought to you by Patrick Lawlor and Siri. Ok, Melanie Ewbanks reads the female POVs (I googled it - she is not Siri), but true story: I was driving to a meeting at a building I hadn't been to before when I first started listening to this audiobook, so I had my GPS turned on. The first time Ms. Ewbanks took over the narration, I seriously thought that my GPS lady got bored and started to randomly narrate the book. (I googled the GPS lady too - not Ms. Ewbanks.) She improves a little as the story goes on - or I just got used to her - but if you want to know what sex scenes sound like when read to you by a Siri-esque voice, now's your chance! (I didn't, so I skipped over them. Even when Lawlor was reading them. Narrators reading sex scenes are just painful.) Patrick Lawlor did a much better job of getting into the material and bringing life and warmth to the story. Unfortunately - as happens too often with dual narrators - the narrators are clearly not in the studio together when they recorded their parts, so Lawlor still has to do female voices and Siri still has to do male voices and I have no idea why you would pay for two narrators and then split up the reading this way. Stop doing this to your listeners!

 

Sadly, even the best narrators couldn't have saved this book. This has three - count them - one, two, THREE - romances crammed into one long-ass boring romance novel with an attempt at an intriguing suspense subplot to thread it all together. It just doesn't work. Rating them from blandest to most promising, the romances are these:

 

3 - Charles, Cybelle, Joe - Love triangle. Bored now. Love triangle set during WW II? UGHHHH! At least it's not set in Pearl Harbor? Seriously, it's WW II and that's the best the author could think to do with these characters? STAHP. The only good thing about this part of the story is that Charles and Joe stay friends.

 

2 - Kelly and Tom - The old "girl kisses boy, boy freaks out and enlists in the Navy, boy and girl don't see each other for 16 years and in all that time they clearly barely even change since they're right back where they left off as soon as they're in the same room again" story. Yeah, nothing new here either. I did like Tom's struggles with his head injury and wondering if he's still capable of leading. I'm just not sure this story actually answers that question. I also liked Kelly's struggles with understanding her father, Charles, and getting closer to him as his health is failing.

 

1 - Mallory and David - The old "geek boy who's really a nice guy (but not a Nice Guy) stalks beautiful girl and gets her" story. Ok, stalking is a little strong. He just makes himself visible, and he's a lot more confident and self-assured than geek boys tend to be in these stories. Mallory's change of heart toward him is gradual, and while it occasionally threatens to veer into boring romance cliche territory, it mostly avoids it.

 

The terrorist stalker subplot is one I've read before also, so again, nothing new here. This was published pre-9/11, so maybe the regulations were a wee bit more relaxed then, but I doubt it. If a bomb threat gets called in, it has to be investigated. End of story. If a building needs to be evacuated in a hurry, pull the fire alarm. The ending was convoluted and eye roll worthy, and the negligence on display here by literally everyone except our protags defies logic. 

 

This series is not off to a good start, but I've seen other reviews mention the books get better after this one, so I'm going to at least give the next one a try.

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review 2017-07-07 02:27
Don’t Look Down ★★☆☆☆
Don't Look Down - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

This degenerated from silly but cute to just plain old stupid. The plot is an unnecessarily convoluted and nonsensical plot that somehow injects

terrorists and mobsters and FBI and CIA and money laundering and stolen ancient artifacts

(spoiler show)

into a Romance. Maybe it’s being purposefully meta, since that’s apparently what’s happened to the hot mess of a movie that our heroine has been hired to finish.

 

This heroine and her hero, ugh. She knows the guy for all of three days, and hasn’t even slept with him, thinks he doesn’t even have any romantic or sexual interest in her at all, but she’s considering moving herself and her family from NY & LA, respectively, to a swamp in Florida so he can be a part of her life. Then she just literally walks into a swamp in the dark in hopes of finding him so she can have sex with him. And she does! And they do! And it’s awesome! No bugs or anything.

 

I think it was at this point that I got so frustrated with this story, and cared so little about the characters or what happened to them, that it took real willpower to power on to the end rather than DNFing. I got through it by cheering on the alligator.

 

Hardcover version. I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly square Cars Land 18: Read a book that was published in 2006, 2011, 2013, or 2014, the years of Cars and its sequels, or that has a car on the cover. This book was published in 2006.

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review 2017-06-25 23:21
Camino Island ★★☆☆☆
Camino Island: A Novel - John Grisham

Deadly dull stuff. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters, and the main character’s moral rationalizing was frankly laughable. I’m not sure why the author even bothered telling us about any of the criminals who pulled off the heist. The plot was… well, I couldn’t bring myself to care how it ended, if the criminals were caught, if the university got their manuscript back, or if the writer and the bookseller reconciled their relationship.

 

I think the only reason I even finished this book is that I was listening to it while on a long road trip and the book was marginally more interesting than just looking at 200 miles worth of grass and trees and cows, although the occasional horse pasture was distraction enough for me to have to rewind.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. January LaVoy provided a very good performance, considering the material she had to work with.

 

Previous Updates:

6/23/17 – 3%

6/25/17 – 82%

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review 2017-06-24 21:13
Confessional (A Blake Harte Mystery, #2)
Confessional - John A. Ashley,Robert Innes

As I said on my DNF review of the first book in this series, Untouchable, there are good bones here. I feel like this author has a lot of potential but just isn't getting any kind of guidance at all. He clearly doesn't have an editor. Some of the grammatical issues from the first book are improved on - mostly - but many others remain. Many of the character interactions are more or less well done, though the author could use a better grasp on basic human psychology to avoid cliche pitfalls. There wasn't much to the mystery. It's formulaic and predictable. I had the whodunit pegged from the second they showed up on page, and I even had the murder method more or less figured out from the get-go.

I figured foxglove/digitalis sprinkled on the communion wafers; murderer went with hemlock in the communion wine.

(spoiler show)

The ending was filled with all the bad cliches; I was cringing, y'all. I couldn't get up the energy to even be remotely concerned about the welfare of the characters. It was obvious what was going to happen and it was just boring.

 

So yeah, there are good bones here, and if this author can find himself an editor or two who really know what they're doing, I can see him writing some great stories. But as of now, with one DNF and one 2.5 star read, I won't be bothering with any more from this writer.

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