Audiobook Review Bites

Deadhouse GatesDeadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #2
Publisher: Tor (February 1, 2005)
Tiara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the deserts of Raraku, a rebelling is brewing led by a seer known as Sha’ik. These rebels hope to usher in the Whirlwind, a phenomena said to be the rage of the Whirldwind Goddess. Others call it an apocalypse. Rebellion ruptures across the lands, sweeping it with violence as key players try to get a handle on the situation in the only ways they know how. Some of the seeds from the first book begin to blossom in this installment. Gardens of the Moon explored the political maneuverings leading up to this rebellion while Deadhouse Gates is a demonstration in savagery caused by this rebellion, punctuated by the harrowing journey of 30,000 refugees and the Malaz 7th Army across a war torn continent in a section titled “Chain of Dogs.” There is nothing small scale about this story; there is nothing small about the difficulties it presents for these people. This continues to be a story that asks its readers to look at the broader picture.

As with Gardens of the Moon, readers are thrust back in this world at the thick of things. Unlike Gardens of the Moon, we are faced with the full force of the brutality that comes with rebellion and war. It’s a hard story to cut your teeth on with the excess of violence. No one is spared the brutality of this war. Villains don’t always get what’s coming to them, and heroes don’t always get to swoop in and save the day. Only a few familiar faces show up in this journey through the Malazan Empire, allowing us a little more time to become familiar with these characters, but Erikson throws a slew of new characters in the mix for our consideration as well.

This story is complex, with such a sprawling narrative. I’m really amazed at how well Erikson was able to keep these first two books from spiraling into a mess. You can definitely see the dedication he has to the world and these characters. Granted, I think that this could’ve been much shorter than it was, but still, this narrative holds. It does take a bit of time for this to build up its plot, but it has much more of a focus than Gardens of the Moon. It’s well worth wading through a bit of narrative building if you can stomach all the atrocities this throws at you. However, by the time you finish this book, you just might feel like you’ve fought a war yourself.

Narrator: Ralph Lister | Length: 34 hrs and 5 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Brilliance Audio (February 22, 2013) | Whispersync Ready: Yes (As of this posting)

4-stars

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Dark LoverDark Lover by J.R. Ward
Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy, Erotica
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Publisher: Penguin (September 6, 2005)
Tiara’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

After seven long years of this book being on my TBR pile, this book gets to make its home on my read list, but first a description courtesy of Goodreads.

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

I have a bit of mixed feelings about Dark Lover. This felt like such a guilty pleasure read with its supernatural alpha males and the women who love them. There are barrels of romance, action, and steamy encounters to be had, which appeals wholly to that side of me that is unapologetic smut trash. This is one of those books that manages to engage me and keep me interested in the story even when there are so many separate parts that I’m not sure I like much. I try to take stories like these at face value and enjoy them on that base level that they appeal to. However, I have concerns.

The slang and hip-hop references felt so forced, and I’m sure the narration, which was very bland, did nothing to make me feel that it wasn’t. I have nothing at all against authors using pop references, but I find it hard to take a bunch of centuries old vampires talking like they walked off the set of Jersey Shore seriously. This comes completes with sophomoric spellings of their names–Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous, Tohrment. Pulling pop references off well requires a certain timing and strategic usage to make it feel authentic. This book did not have that. It doesn’t matter that this was written in 2005. This would’ve felt silly even then.

Also, this book has too many instances of all this information and intense emotion being dumped on the readers without any real buildup. The women troubled me a bit as most of the ones featured didn’t feel really integral to the story for more than what they could provide in terms of sex and vulnerability to uplift and redeem the male characters. I had to make my peace with these things very early in this book, and I feel like I can move forward in this series with a lower bar. And to be fair to this book, firsts in a series can often be a bit shaky as an author tries to establish their world and characters.

Narrator: Jim Frangione | Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Recorded Books (January 22, 2009) | Whispersync Ready: No (As of this posting)

3stars

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14 Comments on “Audiobook Review Bites

  1. I agree with your assessment of Dark Lover. Part of me enjoyed it for the love scenes, but then we have these silly vampire names and the ladies don’t have much to offer other than comfort and sex. I read book 2 and found it about the same, then I started Book 3 (which folks told me was great for it’s strong female characters) but I had to set it down about half way through. I might or might not go back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to try the next one. I don’t know if I’m going to listen to it, though, because that narrator was a bit terrible. I was disappointed where the main female character’s story went (or didn’t go) because I like the premise behind her being a half-vampire close to changing, but then, there wasn’t really much more to her story than that. *sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel the same way. Such promise! And then nothing. Same thing happens with the ladies in Book 2. So, I enjoy Gena Showalter’s Alien Huntress series more – plenty of sexytimes but also female characters with goals that extend beyond the bedroom.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have one Gena Showalter book I got during a recent Audible sale. Wicked Nights. I look forward to listening to one of her books. I hear good things about them.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember how pissed off I was at first when I started reading “Deadhouse Gates” and all of my favourite characters from “Gardens of the Moon” didn’t appear. I still kept on reading and am happy that I did. There are a few storylines I did not like and that dragged on a bit (never was a fan of Icarium for example..), but others I enjoyed very much. I love the whole series and even started re-reading it a few months ago. When will you listen to “Memories of Ice”? That one was my favourite 🙂

    I read the first part of the “Black Dagger” series as well, a long time ago but didn’t like it. Too much focus on sex, not enough on characters & storyline.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was like, “Where are my other favorites?!” I love Kalam and Sorry, but I wanted to see Quick Ben and Whiskeyjack and the others. But I was the same way I came to really love many of the new faces in the story. I don’t know when I’ll listen to Memories of Ice yet. I’m thinking September might be a good time to start it. This is turning into one of those series that I have to think about each book before jumping into the next one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I loved Duiker. He was such a great character. I really liked this book. Maybe a little more than Gardens of the Moon. It was emotionally draining, though, and I have a feeling it’s going to keep twisting my emotions as I read on.

      Liked by 1 person

        • A year for the whole series! I wish I had the time and dedication for that. Because they are so dense, it certainly would be better to read them closer together though. I hope to make carrying on with the series my 2017 project.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I suppose I should have mentioned I was reading them during my craziest year of college, so it probably wouldn’t have taken me that long otherwise.

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  3. I was just looking at Deadhouse Gates. I’ve got it downloaded and am mentally preparing myself to take on a heavy long read. Glad to hear it’s so good. Not that I have any doubt at this point. Still only at Gardens of the Moon, but remain amazed by how robust and complete this epic is and the process that it has gone through, with both authors working on it.

    Like

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