Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn; narrated by Marc Thompson

Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

 

I think this will be the last of the Thrawn books for a while based on the timeline. It is set right before the finale of Rebels. The third book of this trilogy was not my favorite of the three. I was a little bit bored in the middle of the story, and I thought the plot was a bit..weak.

That being said I will focus on some of the positive things.

I really liked the humor Marc Thompson brought to some of the characters. Such as his Sean Connery voice for Admiral Savit. That cracked me up. As did his pompous, snobby voice for Assistant Director Ronan.
Whenever Director Krennic made an appearance he was always yelling, but Marc’s voice work for him was spot on. Oh, and I was so amused by the jokes at his expense about his white cape. So pretentious.

I loved the voices Marc did for the Death Troopers and how they were just grilling Assistant Director Ronan, because he was so annoying.

This time Thrawn did not say “Perhaps” as much! What a relief!

I did enjoy the subplot with Eli Vanto, the Chiss and their navigators. He didn’t annoy me this time and it was interesting to see his role with the Chiss were he is an outsider. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them and learning more about the Force Sensitive girls who navigate their ships.

SOME SPOILERS BELOW!

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Review of Iron Gold – the audiobook.

Iron Gold By: Pierce Brown
Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds, John Curless, Julian Elfer, Aedin Moloney

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I last read Iron Gold back in January of 2018. This week I listened to the audiobook for the first time to refresh my memory for Dark Age (coming out this Tuesday).

I have heard mixed reviews about the new voices. Some say that Lysander’s voice is too low and that he doesn’t do different voices for different characters speaking. Some say Lyria’s is too whiny and others say she has great emotion.

Here are my thoughts:

Tim Gerard Reynolds, as always, is perfect for Darrow’s POV. I have no complaints.

The voice of Lysander, Julian Elfer, was what I imagined a Gold like him to sound. Kind of stuffy and pompous. Something was off with the volume. His parts sounded lower and I’d turn up the volume. It is true that he doesn’t do many variations for the voices and it’s hard to tell who is saying what. Actually at 25% in I started reading along on my ebook.

Lyria, Aedin Moloney, has the accent I imagined her to have, but like the narrator for Lysander, she didn’t have much range for doing the different voices. Especially for Ephraim and Holiday. I will say though that I think she got the emotion of Lyria right: the anger and sadness.

After TGR the narrator for Ephraim, John Curless, was second best. John Curless is the only one to return for Dark Age. He really got the tone of Ephraim and was able to do more of a variety of voices. I really liked his accent for Volga and The Duke of Hands.

Listening to Iron Gold to refresh my memory was a smart decision. I forgot some details, but my feelings from the review I wrote in 2018 have stayed the same.

So excited for Dark Age! I’ll read the ebook first, then listen to the audiobook, and I will review both. I’ll reserve judgment for the new voices, though I think I will miss Julian Elfer and Aedin Moloney. I got used to them.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton.

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Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Will Patton. At first I really didn’t like his voice at all and missed Campbell Scott’s voice. But as I started getting into it I got used to his gruffness and thought it actually worked really well with some of the members of the True Knot and with Billy Freeman.

I thought Dan’s character as an adult was spot on for what would become of his life in the aftermath of the traumatic events of the Overlook Hotel. Also, the way he wrote his recovery from alcoholism was so well written and so believable that (besides King saying it himself in the Author’s Note) I looked it up and King knows from experience! I did not know that Stephen King was a recovering alcoholic.

WARNING: NOW THE REVIEW WILL HAVE SPOILERS BELOW.

THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!

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The Shining by Stephen King, Narrated by Campbell Scott

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Listening Length: 15 hours and 56 minutes

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

The Shining certainly lived up to the hype. I became afraid of the dark, and I even jumped in my seat on the bus when the passenger next to me adjusted his position in his seat.

This is the first King novel I have ever read/listen to. I have read/listened to a couple of novels by his son Joe Hill, and I can see their similarities with their prose. I liked the way King describes the settings and actions. I bookmarked a few favorite parts.

The pacing and character development was just right and so engaging. It is very hard to put it down. I jumped, gasped and groaned in reaction.

Campbell Scott’s narration was excellent. Without overly changing his voice too much he made it easy to distinguish the characters and when Jack is possessed at the end, the insanity in his voice is chilling.

Some Favorite Quotes:
Chapter 8: The mountains did not forgive many mistakes.

Chapter 33: (about the woman in 217) Like some malevolent clockwork toy she had been wound up and set in motion by Danny’s own mind… and his own.

Chapter 43: All the hotel’s era were together tonight now, all but the current one, the Torrance era.

5 out of 5 Roque Mallets.

I think most people have seen the movie by Kubrick, but that does not do the story justice. It missed the point and changed the essence of the characters. Danny is an intelligent boy and the movie dumbs him down, especially with his imaginary friend, Tony.

Jack Torrance being played by Jack Nicholson makes him seem like he was always a sinister, crazy man when he is more of a tragic character that gets manipulated by the Hotel.

The movie is great on it’s own and I will still watch it when I see it on TV. However, it is not a great adaptation of the book.

 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic by Ben Davies, Natalie Dormer (Narrator)

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Harry Potter: A History of Magic is the official book of the exhibition, a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Bloomsbury, J.K. Rowling and the brilliant curators of the British Library. It promises to take readers on a fascinating journey through the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from Alchemy and Potions classes through to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Each chapter showcases a treasure trove of artefacts from the British Library and other collections around the world, beside exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive. There’s also a specially commissioned essay for each subject area by an expert, writer or cultural commentator, inspired by the contents of the exhibition – absorbing, insightful and unexpected contributions from Steve Backshall, the Reverend Richard Coles, Owen Davies, Julia Eccleshare, Roger Highfield, Steve Kloves, Lucy Mangan, Anna Pavord and Tim Peake, who offer a personal perspective on their magical theme. Readers will be able to pore over ancient spell books, amazing illuminated scrolls that reveal the secret of the Elixir of Life, vials of dragon’s blood, mandrake roots, painted centaurs and a genuine witch’s broomstick, in a book that shows J.K. Rowling’s magical inventions alongside their cultural and historical forebears. This is the ultimate gift for Harry Potter fans, curious minds, big imaginations, bibliophiles and readers around the world who missed out on the chance to see the exhibition in person.

I listened to the audiobook this week and went to the exhibit at the New York Historical Society today.

Photos are not allowed at the exhibit so I do want to buy the book eventually. Maybe with some Christmas money. It was nice though to put an image to all the descriptions made in the audiobook.

I love Natalie Dormer and she did a fantastic job of narrating. There were many interviews with the curators of the British Library and the NY Historical Society, the narrators of the UK and US editions of HP (Stephen Fry and Jim Dale, respectively), as well as some clips from the HP audiobooks and Fantastic Beasts (narrated by Eddie Redmayne), and interviews with artist Jim Kay.

I realized I like Jim Dale’s narration more than Stephen Fry’s. I think Jim did more voices and it was easier to distinguish which character was speaking. I also loved his little tidbits about how he came up with some voices.

One of the curators of the British Library, Julian Harrison, has thee softest voice I have ever heard. Sometime I had to increase the volume to hear him. And once I did fall asleep on the bus listening to his voice. I swear it is like melted butter.

The chapters are broken up into the subjects from Hogwarts: Charms, Potions and Alchemy, Divination, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology. The subjects go into the history of magical elements, and also give insight into Rowling’s writing process, Jim Kay’s process for drawing scenes for the illustrated edition, and Dale’s and Fry’s ideas about narrating the scenes for the audiobooks.

I loved what I learned from this audiobook. It’s amazing how these ancient ideas and beliefs about magic are world wide. Every part of the world has their own folklore but the ideas and symbolisms are so similar to each other.

They also spoke about the origins of the images we associate with witches. Such as cauldrons and broomsticks. The broomstick has a feminist origin. A woman is owning her power by taking an domestic item and using it for her power.

The word Abracadabra was believed to cure malaria.

I could keep going but there are so many that are fascinating! I bookmarked many parts to remember what I learned. I feel like going on Jeopardy! now.

It was just so enchanting that it took 3 hours to get through the exhibit today because I just had to study everything there.

I found that listening the audiobook before seeing the exhibit was very beneficial. I felt I was more prepared to know the more detailed stories behind the items I was studying. The exhibit is like the Cliff’s Notes of the audiobook.

If you have any interest in history, magic, and/or Harry Potter, this book is for you.

5 out of 5 Broomsticks

Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, narrated by Kate Mulgrew

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Don’t slow down

Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn’t tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the Wraith, he and his innocent guests can slip out of the everyday world and onto hidden roads that lead to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland. Mile by mile, the journey across the highway of Charlie’s twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor.

And then comes the day when Vic goes looking for trouble…and finds her way, inevitably, to Charlie.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, the only kid ever to escape Charlie’s unmitigated evil is all grown up and desperate to forget.

But Charlie Manx hasn’t stopped thinking about the exceptional Victoria McQueen. On the road again, he won’t slow down until he’s taken his revenge. He’s after something very special—something Vic can never replace.

As a life-and-death battle of wills builds—her magic pitted against his—Vic McQueen prepares to destroy Charlie once and for all…or die trying…

So I had this whole plan to fill my October reading/listening list with scary, gothic, horror-thriller stories for Halloween. I didn’t make it far and now the season is over. But I did choose well because what a crazy story! It is one of the best supernatural thrillers that I have read. I have read Hill’s other book Horns, and I think NOS4A2 might be more fraked up.

It was full of adventure and suspense. It got my heart racing and feeling really nervous for the fate of the characters I liked. I did feel like the ending did drag on a touch (which is why I deducted a point from my rating) because I was bit like, “oh, we’re not there yet?” However, the ending was very fitting and the opening for a sequel is there. Which scares me to no end. So mission accomplished.

It’s also a good mom story because it takes the saying “I will go to the ends of the earth to find you” to a whole new level. Hell hath no fury like a mother scorn.

Kate Mulgrew’s performance is phenomenal! The way she does Manx’s voice sends shivers down my spine. I think her voice has changed a bit since Star Trek: Voyager and the deep, raspiness was such an asset to her narration.

I loved the geeky references to Batman, Harry Potter, and others, as well as the nod to Horns when the Treehouse of the Mind is mentioned. All that geeky stuff made me gleeful.

While there is a lot of suspense, and some really disturbing, f-ed up situations, there was some humor too. It might have been Mulgrew’s delivery, but this one part in particular that made me laugh out loud was in Chapter 65 (page 377 in the paperback) when Charlie Manx says, “You will quit right this instant or I am leaving you by the side of the road. There is no reason for you to take out your failures on the handsome interior of my car.”

I ended up buying the paperback too because there are illustrations in it that are, of course, missing from the audiobook.

Lastly, there was a chapter at the end when Joe Hill talks about the story, his family and his inspirations and I liked when he said we all live in two worlds: The Real World and our own Thoughts. Ideas are thoughts made into realty through song (or any art form). I never thought about it that way before, but it’s true.

That is what music, books, movies, paintings, sculpture, etc. are. You think of it in your mind and it exists in your inscape… and then it becomes real and others can see, hear, and feel it too.

4 out of 5 Bikes.

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, Narrated by B. J. Harrison

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, Narrated by B. J. Harrison; 8 hours 19 minutes.

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It is the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein! It also October and I decided to read some ghoulish stories.

I first read Frankenstein almost 20 years ago when I was in high school.

So back then I was a bit bored by the writing. I still was at times because Shelly would go on a bit with some descriptions, and listening to Harrison’s soothing voice would allow me to doze off.

I do think this time around though that I appreciated the prose more and found some passages quite poetic. I do love that Mary Shelly was a woman ahead of her time to write such a deep, philosophical, science fiction story.

I am so used to the adaptations of Frankenstein that I forgot that in the original story it is never outright said how he makes the Creature. It’s not the digging up bodies and using lightening method we’re used to. It’s implied that Frankenstein made the body from scratch. Also, and maybe I fell asleep during that part, he is also never called Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Did he get his P.H.D.?

The reason that this story still stands today is because the philosophy and themes in the story are timeless. We’re a blank slate and what shapes us is nature and nurture together. Also, take responsibility for your actions. I am looking at you, Victor.

4 out of 5 Lightening Bolts

I just want to give a shout out to my two favorite adaptations:
– Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, which is still hysterically funny.
– Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, where Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated their roles each night as Frankenstein and the Creature.