The Informationist (Audiobook) by Taylor Stevens, Hillary Huber

The Informationist The Informationist

by Taylor Stevens, Hillary Huber (Narrator)
Series: Vanessa Michael Munroe, #1

Unabridged Audiobook, 12 hrs, 30 min.
Random House Audio, 2011
Read: December 7 – 13, 2016


When I read this 4 years ago, I only had a little to say, but let’s start with it:
Heckuva ride. Vanessa Michael Munroe is Lisbeth Salander with a healthier mental state (not saying she’s perfectly well adjusted…she’s just better adjusted). Same intensity, same ferocity, same tenacity. A character you want to see more of.

I think the novel had a couple too many twists and turns–don’t ask me which could be cut out w/o sacrificing the whole, though. But really, if my major complaint about the novel is that the mystery is too complex, keeps you guessing too much? Is that really a knock?

This time through, I think I appreciated the depth of Munroe’s character and backstory a bit more. Stevens created a rich character and I look forward to seeing what she does with this world.

Huber’s narration was pretty good — she kept things going well, and captured both the emotion and tension. The only problem I had was with one character — an African male sounded too much like Kate Mulgrew doing a Russian accent for me.

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3 Stars

Hunted (Audiobook) by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels

Hunted Audiobook Hunted

by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels (Narrator)
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, #6

Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 52 min.
Random House Audio, 2013

Read: November 21 – 23, 2016


I loved listening to this one this week — hated for it to end. I’m not sure why this volume works so much better for me than others in this series (not that there’s a bad one in the bunch), but it does. I’m still pretty satisfied with what I wrote the first time I read the book, so I’ll pretty much copy and paste it below with a few minor tweaks and a word or two about the audio performance.

Try as I might, I can’t figure out a way to get Goodreads to let me give this as many stars as it deserves — 6. I don’t think it’s possible for Hearne to write a bad book, but Hunted is beyond good. Not that Hearne has ever seemed anything but self-assured and capable (sorta like Atticus), but he’s really firing on all cylinders here — from the jaw-dropping and series-changing events of Chapter 1 through all the plot, twists, character moments, quips, action, and development that follows — Hearne delivers with verve and panache.

I don’t know how to describe the storyline without plunging neck-deep into spoiler territory, so let’s just say that this picks up minutes (if not seconds) from Trapped and keeps going from there. Virtually every character from the previous five novels makes an appearance (if only with a name-drop), and we get a few new characters from the pages of myth (Irish, Greek and Roman predominantly, but most of Europe is well-represented here) as well from Hearne’s own imagination. Our favorite Druids face off with a couple of new opponents, try to broker a peace with Greek and Roman pantheons, prepare for Ragnarok, and try to suss out who amongst the Tuatha Dé Danann might be working to bring about their untimely demise. (clearly, our heroes don’t get a lot of rest in these fast-moving 300 pages to get all that addressed)

Not that Atticus has had an easy go of it since the beginning of Hounded, but Hearne really puts the hurt on him this time around. He has two of the closest calls I can remember a first-person narrator dealing with in recent history — and he gets both of them in one book! Though honestly, the emotional and intellectual challenges he faces are probably harder for him to deal with — his Bear charm and tattoos can’t help him with those. Naturally, he rises to the challenges and even pulls off a couple of schemes that would make his buddy Coyote proud. While remaining Atticus at his core, there are flashes of a ruthlessness and hardness that we haven’t seen much of before. A good reminder that a Celtic warrior was formidable opponent (thankfully, there are things that still make him balk!)

While most of the book is told from Atticus’ POV as usual, we do get a few chapters from Granuaile’s POV — Daniels is able to pull these off well, I should add. I appreciated seeing things from her perspective (not just the parts that Atticus couldn’t relate, either) and I learned a lot more about a character I thought I knew pretty well already. I think she’s just about at the point where we could get Granuaile novels with minimal use of Atticus (see the Joe Pike novels) and not feel we were missing much — if anything, the fight scenes might be a bit more savage. There’s a danger here (I think Atticus himself sees this) in her becoming too much of an eco-warrior (think Captain Planet as told by Tarantino), and I think that could make for problematic reading if it went on too long or too extreme. But until then, I’m enjoying the heck out of this warrior woman.

If you’re already reading this series, you’re in love with Oberon (or have no soul). If you’re not reading it, you’ve probably not read this far — but if you have, just know that it’s worth buying the 6 books just to spend time with this most wonderful of Irish Wolfhounds. This is the best use of Oberon yet — of course, he’s hilarious and inappropriate as always — but he also gets to be heroic, inspiring and even moving. I’m not kidding, my eyes got misty a couple of times just because of him. I remembered — very clearly — Oberon’s response to Atticus’ shooting as very moving. Luke Daniels’ work made it heartbreaking (thankfully, I knew what happened afterwards, or I’d have been openly weeping at my desk). A couple of hours later, I did audibly crack up when Oberon used Mercury’s leg for a fire hydrant. Similarly to the way that the audio performance made Oberon’s grief more tangible, his joy in the Epilogue was incredibly contagious.

Any book that does all that while pulling off things like citing Wheaton’s Law within a few pages of quoting Dante (in the original!) needs to be celebrated. Add in Daniels’ outstanding performance? An absolute winner.

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5 Stars

Trapped (Audiobook) by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels

Trapped Audiobook Trapped

by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels (Narrator)
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, #5

Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 2 min.
Random House Audio, 2012

Read: November 7 – 10, 2016


Huh. I apparently didn’t write up anything when I first read this. Not only that, but I couldn’t remember a thing about it. At least while I was downloading — chapter after chapter I kept saying, “Oh, that happens in this book?” Some fan I am.

Granuaile is finally bound to the Earth, Atticus starts making things up to Odin, Bacchus tries to get his revenge, Vampires and Dark Elves have similar ideas — as does a certain recently-freed Norse god. Well, many individuals seem to want Atticus dead — preferably before he can bind Granuaile. And well, many, many other things transpire — both positive and dangerous.

Oberon gets to be a hero, as well as comic relief. Which is all anyone can ask for, really.

The way Hearne ends this book is criminal, really — thankfully, I didn’t have to wait too long to get to the next book in the series this time through — I put up with the months of waiting once, I’m not sure I’d have been able to do it again.

I liked the way that Hearne describes the differences between Hermes and Mercury (which carries over to all Olympians both here and the next book) — it reminded me of some of Riordan’s takes in The Heroes of Olympus series, while not duplicating things.

I’ve run out of ways to describe Luke Daniel’s work — it’s just spot-on, not sure what else to say. Hearne’s writing is crisp, well-paced (although I think a couple of the stories from Norse figures drag a bit), and the fight scenes here are among his best. All in all, an important and entertaining installment in this series.

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3.5 Stars

Tricked (Audiobook) by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels

Tricked Audiobook Tricked

by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels (Narrator)
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, #4

Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 30 min.
Random House Audio, 2012

Read: October 19 – 24, 2016


This novel is essential to pivot from the first books to the remainder of the series — after drawing attention to himself by killing Aenghus Óg and the other shenanigans in next books, Atticus needs to disappear for a while — but first he has a promise to Coyote to keep.

When I first read this, I summed up the book by saying, “Again, Hearne doesn’t just deal with one people’s pantheon–Tricked is a mashup of Irish, Norse and Navajo stories (with a side order of several representatives from other continents). Not to mention a returning cast of urban fantasy monsters, and plain ole humans. Of course, Oberon gets time to shine after being absent for so much of Hammered, and he steals every scene he’s in.” I think I’ll let that stand for this time through the book, too.

Once again, I love listening to Daniels’ Coyote — and his other Coyote is pretty good, too (it makes sense in context, really). I’ve really got nothing else to say — it’s typical Daniels, fun and easy to listen to — his narration and characters keep you listening and do a great job of bringing the story to life.

It’s not the best book in the series, but it moves the overall story along, provides some good excitement and proves that Atticus doesn’t need his home environs, and his readers can be entertained while he takes his show on the road (which will prove to be a very good thing for the series).

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4 Stars

‏Eleanor & Park (Audiobook) by Rainbow Rowell, Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park

by Rainbow Rowell, Rebecca Lowman & Sunil Malhotra (Narrators)

Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., 57 min.
Listening Library (Audio), 2013
Read: May 31 – June 1, 2016


Okay, so yesterday I talked about a book that was hurt by the audio narration — this is one that’s helped by it (but not much, because it really doesn’t need much). I read this back when it came out, and gave it 4 Stars — which boggles my mind, was I a harsher grader back then? I remembered liking it more than that, though. Anyway, this audiobook is the perfect example of what the medium can be.

It perfectly captured the flavor, the emotion and the detail of the original. Now, it didn’t become all about the performance, the narrators brought the words to life, but not at the expense of the text.

Lowman and Malhotra were spectacular — they were Eleanore and Park. You fall for them while the characters were falling for each other, and when they expressed emotion, you certainly felt it. Well, I don’t know about “you,” but definitely me.

I’m really not sure what else I can say. This is a perfect story about first love, how it defines who you are in a way you didn’t expect — how it reveals the best of you and improves the worst of you. Using these two social misfits to tell this story grounds it in a way that the Prom King and Queen couldn’t — I just loved it. It’s probably the best thing Rowell’s done, and it’s one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever heard.

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5 Stars

Every Heart a Doorway (Audiobook) by Seanan McGuire, Cynthia Hopkins

Every Heart a Doorway (Audiobook) Every Heart a Doorway

by Seanan McGuire, Cynthia Hopkins (Narrator)
Series: Wayward Children, #1

Unabridged Audiobook, 4 hrs., 44 min.
2016, Macmillan Audio

Read: November 17 – 18, 2016


When I get to considering my favorites of 2016, there’s no way that Every Heart a Doorway doesn’t make the Top 10 (see my initial post), so when I saw it available on the library’s audiobook site when I needed something to end the week with, I grabbed it, certain I was going to have a lot of fun.

Wow, was that a mistake. The story was just as good, the characters as rich, the world(s) just as fascinating — the writing, the wordplay, the language . . . it was just as good as I remembered. But man, the narration just didn’t work for me at all. The book is creepy, funny, spooky, beautiful — and remains so despite the narration. The jokes don’t land, most of the characters seem to lack affect. Actually, I have a list of problems, but I don’t want to get nasty, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I did pick up a bit of a William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus”-vibe towards the end this time that I hadn’t picked up the first time — but I still like it, regardless. I noticed more details, and appreciated the examination of the ideas of what’s home and what’s real maybe a little more this time, so it wasn’t a wasted effort. But it was a disappointing one.

I do want to make it clear that I don’t think Hopkins couldn’t turn in a good performance — I don’t have enough information to say that. I do think that she was wrong for this project, didn’t understand it, or had an off day. I’m not sure. But a novella as exceptionally good as Every Heart a Doorway deserves the best, and this wasn’t it. So for this audiobook (not the text version), I’ve gotta go with 4 stars (and even that feels a little generous).

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4 Stars

Hammered (Audiobook) by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels

Hammered Hammered

by Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels (Narrator)
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles, #3

Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs, 40 min.
Brilliance Audio, 2011

Read: July 25 – 26, 2016


This one is my least favorite in the series (I think, I’m pretty sure, anyway) — Atticus is held to promises he made in the last book, which brings him into contact with the Norse pantheon — particularly Thor — and knocks over the dominoes that will change the lives of Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon forever. This book prevents the Iron Druid Chronicles from being a Dresden Files-Light series, which I’m glad for.

But it just doesn’t work that well for me. Oh, I could point to passages that are stirring, well-written, thoughtful and so on — some of Hearne’s best action scenes are here. He’s got some great character work going on, too (Perun was one of my favorites from the start). I just think Hearne could’ve done better.

Some of Hearne’s funniest material is in this book — Atticus’ internal monologue where he replaces the angel/devil on your shoulder with a Spock and Kirk combo, the stuff about American beer, Oberon’s extended rant about Bacon Lattes from Starbucks. Just great. Sadly, the story surrounding all that just doesn’t hold up too well.

Still, a less-good Iron Druid book is still pretty good. It’s like an iffy pizza. It’s still pizza 🙂

Luke Daniels solidified his place as my favorite Audiobook narrator with this one — I laughed out loud at and loved his Ratatoskr. I don’t think I mentioned in the last book how much I appreciated his Coyote (and if I did, it bears repeating). His accent work was good — just everything. He even elevated the slow part of the book — the sitting-around-the-campfire, telling-stories-about-what-a-jackwagon-Thor-is chapters.

Not my favorite, but for who it introduces, what it sets up — and for the completest in me — worth your time. It’s probably a victim of Hearne’s rush to finish the trilogy to fulfill his very quick publishing contract. Which just means it gets better from here.

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3.5 Stars