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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Audiobook Review: Dead Man's Folly

Title: Dead Man's Folly<.i>
Author: Agatha Christie
Narrator: David Suchet
Length: 6 hours, 2 minutes
Publisher: Harper Audio
Genre: mystery
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
Whilst organising a mock murder hunt for the village fete hosted by Sir George and Lady Stubbs, a feeling of dread settles on the famous crime novelist Adriane Oliver. Call it instinct, but it's a feeling she just can't explain...or get away from.

In desperation she summons her old friend, Hercule Poirot - and her instincts are soon proved correct when the "pretend" murder victim is discovered playing the scene for real, a rope wrapped tightly around her neck.

But it's the great detective who first discovers that in murder hunts, whether mock or real, everyone is playing a part.

I am hopelessly addicted to Agatha Christie novels. I've read all of them at one time or another, and I can revisit them over and over again even if I know the outcome and it doesn't make a lick of difference. I'm sucked in and having a great time.

I find the audiobook versions to be just as addicting, especially because most of them are narrated by either David Suchet or Hugh Fraser, who play Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings respectively in the TV movies that I love so very very much.
Hugh Fraser on the left as Hastings, David Suchet on the right as Poirot

Anyway, this particular story was narrated by David Suchet, and he did a marvelous job as always.  I definitely have my favorites among the Poirot stories, and this one was pretty middle of the pack. The familiar story elements were all there- the country house, the mysterious auras and feelings, the pack of people who were loosely tied together and sitting around waiting for something to happen, the murder that couldn't be prevented, the mysterious foreigner, the works.  Ariadne Oliver  is featured in this one as well, and her commentary was fun.

The back cover summary puts the plot together fairly nicely, and without giving anything away, this is one of those stories where if you accept that events happened the way the resolution outlines them, then it's a good story.  If you don't, then it seems...less.  I was happy to just immerse myself in the narration so when the ultimate resolution came along it didn't disturb my enjoyment of the book.  I can see why someone would be kind of put out by the idea of the subtle influences and the subconscious whatnots.  It depends entirely on how you're feeling when the story elements are revealed.

When reading mysteries, I have the bad habit of flipping to the end so that I know how the story ends and can see (or not see) how the story elements came together.  I find that to be way more enjoyable than the surprise of the ending.  This drives some people crazy but that's their problem!  I didn't do that here, mostly because it's tough to do with an audiobook that I'm mostly listening to on my phone, but I found that not having the road map didn't detract from the story either.  The clues and important facts are fairly well marked here.

Is this my favorite Christie story? No, but I did enjoy listening.  David Suchet is one of my favorite narrators for one of my favorite authors.  It was a win win situation.

Overall Rating:

What's Next at What Book is That?

Audiobook Review: The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: A Feast of Souls

Title: A Feast of Souls
Author: Hailey Edwards
Page Count: 340 pages (digital)
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: fantasy romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
The only way to save her is to bind their souls as one.

Araneae Nation, Book 2

Born with the ability to communicate with the dead, few things take Mana by surprise. But when a canis lopes into her life, announcing himself as the long-dead father of a childhood friend, she’s shocked. To make matters worse, he has a dire message that she alone can deliver.

Now Mana must face Vaughn, the male who inspired one too many girlish fantasies, and impart the spirit’s message—without acknowledging her source—so the soul can be laid to rest.

With rumors of a burgeoning clan war setting his nerves on edge, the last thing Vaughn needs is for an innocent to get caught in the crosshairs. But the woman he remembers as an awkward girl refuses to leave his side until he’s heard her out. That’s not the only change in her that calls to him. Her kindness soothes his battle-scarred soul—and he craves her in ways a warrior shouldn’t.

When they are both captured, they learn of an even greater threat. The plague devastating the southlands has come to his clan home. And his best—and only—chance to keep his people alive is the female who walks among the dead.

Product Warnings
This book contains one fierce hero with a nose for danger, one stubborn heroine who smells like trouble, and one wolfish spirit who makes most relationships with the in-laws seem downright tame. Fur, fangs and some biting should be expected. But never fear, the hero has a sword, and he knows how to use it.

The first book in this series, A Hint of Frost, was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I was super pleased to learn that the next book would be out just in time for my Christmas travels.  I'm always nervous about second books in a series- will they live up to the first one? Will they be exactly the same as the first one and not in a good way? This one was a good follow up that kept me hooked on the series.

We met Vaughn and Mana in the first book and both characters took a significant backseat to the main couple.  Enough ground was laid to show that these two were going to be the stars in book 2, but I was okay with not really getting to know either one until it was their moment in the sun, so to speak.

Vaughn was kind of a dick in book one- we know he and Rhys had serious problems that stemmed from their parentage (same mother, Vaughn is legitimate, Rhys isn't- someone call Maury) but we didn't really get to see things from Vaughn's point of view until now.  What that means is that Vaughn has had a pretty twisted upbringing and has been immersed in politics since he was very young, and has seen the consequences to letting people get close to you, for better or worse.  He's been groomed to succeed his mother as clan leader and has no issues with that- he's a mercenary through and through.

Enter Mana, who is pretty much the opposite in every respect.  Her upbringing was unique and forever changed by the interactions between her clan and Vaughn's, and she's able to see how longstanding animosity and unresolved issues can cause just as many problems as not letting people get close to you ever.  Her clan also believes in fated soulmates and so she's bound and determined to resist Vaughn's appeal because she thinks he's not meant to be hers and that getting involved with him would be tantamount to cheating on her future husband.  This is a romance so I don't think it's a spoiler to say she's wrong.  I'll get to that in a second though.

Anyway, a horrible plague is spreading across the land and it soon becomes apparent that religiously based practices honored by Mana's clan might actually be the only way to treat the disease.  There's a hint of debate about religion versus science but it's resolved nicely for the purposes of the story; the twisty turny bits come from dealing with Vaughn's mother, Isolde, and the choices she made while out of her mind with fever that also negatively impacted the whole clan.  It's hard to say more without giving stuff away but I will say that it was highly interesting for me and kept me turning pages.

My issues with the book are few and far between but most of them are things that have bothered me with other paranormal-esque or fantasy books. For one, I didn't really buy that Mana was so blind to the true nature of her feelings for Vaughn.  It seemed self-indulgent on her part and kind of made her come off as sort of enjoying being a martyr in the name of unrequited love when the answer was staring everyone else in the face, screaming and jumping up and down for acknowledgement.  She tells us herself that people with her powers can't see things related to themselves or their loved ones, and it seemed odd that she conveniently forgot that whenever Vaughn was around.

Then there were the issues surrounding Vaughn's father, who is back in spirit form in this book and hanging out in the body of a wolf.  Vaughn's dad was not a nice guy, and even if you buy into the fact that he did the things he did because weakness would have gotten him killed among his mercenary clan, he's still not a nice guy.  His motives were hard to discern, and he's the star of an upcoming novella in this series that's due out in February (review forthcoming.)  I don't know how I feel about that.  We'll see I guess.

I guess my final verdict on this book would be that it was very good, very enjoyable, but was just narrowly edged out by the first book in the series.  I still highly recommend both and recommend that they be read in order.  I'm looking forward to reading future installments in this series.

Overall Rating:

What's Up Next?
Audiobook Review: Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Well!  It's been a wild year here at WBiT, but a good one filled with lots of good books and good conversation and projects and hard work and all that stuff.  2013 looks to be more of the same- always onward and upward!

I had every intention of writing a standard Happy New Year post, with a list of the best books I'd read in 2012 and a list of books I was eager for in 2013 and all the things you'd expect to see on a blog at the end of the last month of any given year.  To that end, I went back through my old posts to see if I had made a post listing blogging related goals and what have you, thinking it'd be interesting to reference the post and see how much progress I'd made.

The fact that I couldn't remember if that post existed is pretty telling if you ask me.

Anyway, I found my post, and it was interesting to compare my ideas and priorities in December 2011/January 2012 to where I am now.  I'm a firm believer in reading the writing on the wall and it should be clear to anyone that writing about books has had to take a distant back seat to other things.  Work things, school things (I just can't seem to stay away from higher education,) crafty things (I'm an enthusiastic knitting and cross stitcher) and other projects too.  I cook a lot more now than I used to.  I exercise more and have committed to training to walk a half marathon in April (woo!)  I'm making it a goal for 2013 to clean and organize more around the house.  I'm a busy, busy bee, more so than ever before.

This means that my reading habits have changed dramatically over the past twelve months.  I'm not proud of the fact that I've completely ignored my pile of review books lately, but that's what's happened.  I've focused on reading books that I've purchased or have enjoyed in the past; I've read one new to me book in the past two months (Feast of Souls by Hailey Edwards and it was awesome; a review is forthcoming,) I've enjoyed audiobooks (thanks Audible) and didn't post here at all in December.  Time was spent doing other things.

Probably the most indicative thing I've discovered is that there has apparently been an issue in my blog emails being forwarded to the email address that I check all the time, meaning that blog related emails haven't been getting to me.  I realized this today when I finally noticed the pop up that said there was a problem and went to check it out.

Honey boo boos, there were over 12,000 emails in that inbox.  I don't recall the last time I logged into the account but apparently it's been quite some time since any blog related correspondence reached me.  The problem has been addressed and I should be back on top of things now, but the point to take away is this- I didn't deal with blog related things for a long time, and nothing bad happened.  I did find some thoughtful and kind emails from folks who had requested a review following up on the status of said review, and I responded; if I missed yours, please send it again.  I responded to one request for review that was too good to pass up and that should be scheduled for February.  Other than that, I will not be accepting new books for review.  Probably ever.  If I have committed to reviewing a title for you, I will get to it; if an unsolicited copy of a book has shown up at my door, I will make decisions on a case by case basis but bear in mind, this book was unsolicited.  I am updating the review policy today to say that I am not accepting books for review.  Beyond that, this blog is now a place for me to track my personal reading habits and to keep track of thoughts on my reading.  In effect, it's going back to what it was in the very beginning.

I don't know why I was so hesitant to take this step, but it feels good.  Reading and books will always be a part of my life, but now this outlet is totally on my terms.  I guess I wasn't ready to take that step a year ago.  I am now.

I'm thankful to everyone who has been along for the ride since I started spewing my book-related thoughts all over the internet back in 2008.  I hope you decide it's still worthwhile to see what this next incarnation of WBiT brings.  Comparing notes on books has always been my favorite part of the blogging community and I'm looking forward to doing just that.

Thanks to any and all who are still reading and here's to a great 2013!
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