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  • gilwilson 9:23 PM on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 16th century, a discovery of witches, , , , christopher marlowe, deborah harkness, elizibethean, emperor rudolf, jennifer ikeda, , queen elizabeth, romance, school of night, shadow of night, , the all souls trilogy, ,   

    “Shadow of Night” book 2 of “The All Souls Trilogy” by Deborah Harkness 

    “Shadow of Night” (book 2 of “The All Souls Trilogy”)
    by Deborah Harkness
    read by Jennifer Ikeda
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx 24.5 hours

    I am really getting tired of Supernatural Romantic books. I’m a strong believer in the idea that vampires should be staked not taken to bed. I can only blame Anne Rice and the Vampire Lestat for starting this trend. So, you may ask yourself, “Why did
    Gil T. listen to this Audiobook?” Well, I really don’t know what started me on the book, other than I’m a sucker for supernatural tales and I keep hoping someone gets back to the killing of these evil beasts. While the vampires were not staked and the premise of this story is the marriage of a vampire to a witch, I gave it a chance. As it turned out, I was mildly pleased. The story had only a touch of those Supernatural Romance novels, but better yet this book had more of a science-fiction time-travelling tale, and if you know me, you know I’m a sucker for time-travel.

    I picked up this book not knowing it was the second book in the trilogy, and when I first started listening, I realized I was missing something, so I looked up the information on the author and found I missed the first book. As I continued to listen I found that the author wrote into the story some of the missing info I would have obtained from the first book, within the first hour or so of listening. This makes this pretty much a stand-alone novel, but I think, out of curiosity, I’ll go back and find the first book.

    From what I can gather, the first book introduced Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar and witch who is not in control of her powers, and vampire Matthew DuClairmont. Who according to this book is from a large influential “family” of vampires. Diana finds an alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782. When she discovers the book she and Matthew come under attack from a group of witches that want the book for their own uses. Diana is able to “timewalk” her and Matthew to a time in Matthews past in order to find the book before it is enchanted and maybe find another witch to teach Diana how to better use her powers.

    Diana “timewalks” them back to the 16th century when Matthew (remember he is a very old vampire) had some dark secrets. He is a spy for Queen Elizabeth, seems to be in charge of destroying witches to some extent, and is a member of the legendary “School of Night.” The School of Night is pretty much a who’s who of the 1590s featuring in its membership, Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlow, William Shakespeare, George Chapman and Thomas Herriot. In this book Harkness allows her characters to interact with these folks and others like Henry Percy and the Queen herself. At times the time-travellers seem to influence the historical significance of these people. Harkness also plays on the ideas that Christopher Marlow was a demon, and even the poet Matthew Roydon is a vampire, in fact Matthew DuClairmont is Roydon. It makes for a fun twist in the story.

    So this is what kept my interest; Harkness was able to weave her story into the history facts and make this fiction a bit more intriguing. So with the rest of the story the two time-walkers visit Matthew’s father, the Emperor Rudolf in Prague, and a few other historical figures in order to track down Ashmole 782. The story is not a fast paced action story but rather one that is rather like a Jane Austen novel set in the 16th century, with a bit of vampire and witch lore sprinkled in. There are no real vampire battles nor real witchcraft but the story does remain a bit intriguing in what seems like a Dan Brown mystery written by Jane Austen.

    The reader, Jennifer Ikeda, did a super job of reading this book and captured the voice of Diana perfectly. She was also able to do the vocal change-ups that allowed her to voice the other characters in their own voices. As a listener I definitely knew when which character was speaking when, thanks to her vocal changes in the reading of this book.

    Slow moving but intriguing, I will be checking out the other books in the series now that this one has my curiosity up.

  • gilwilson 10:11 PM on April 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , karen savage, laura kreitzer, , revolution publishing, romance, , , , , ,   

    “Phantom Universe: Summer Chronicles, Book 1” By Laura Kreitzer 

    “Phantom Universe: Summer Chronicles, Book 1”
    By Laura Kreitzer
    Read by Karen Savage
    Published by Revolution Publishing
    8 hours 38 minutes

    Once again it’s time to take a romp into the world of Young Adult fiction, and sticking to my favorite genre overall, Science-Fiction.  Some of the most interesting stories come from Young Adult fiction, but then again so have some of the worst, I won’t mention any names (cough, cough, Twilight, cough, cough), but I think you know some.   Anyway this book and what looks to be a series is among one of the most interesting.   I will admit it was a bit frustrating, but in a fun way.  Frustrating because it was so cleverly written that it kept me trying to guess what was happening next, and constantly changing that guess.

    This audiobook is read by Karen Savage, and I’ll be one of the first to jump on her bandwagon.  Ms. Savage captures the voice, or rather the inner-voice of Summer, the main character in the story.  She also is able to differentiate the separate voices of the other characters with  ease and let me tell you that is no easy feat.  The voices range from Scottish and British accents, to pirates, to Native American, to Canadian, and even some Southern American.   Each one is performed beautifully in order to enhance the telling of this romp through time.   So now I have one more audiobook voice artist to put on my list to listen to more often.

    Oh, I see you caught that time travel hint.  Well the time traveling done in this first book of the Summer Chronicles is only one way with a large amount of people traveling 200 years into the future.  But before I get caught up in that aspect, which was one of the frustrating parts of the story for me, remember, frustrating in a good way.

    Summer lives in the modern day world as a slave.  Yes this book talks about child slavery and gets a bit rough, but it is all done to further the story and create the what turns out to be a strong character in Summer.  Summer was sold into slavery by, what at first seems like her mother, but more is learned to deter that idea later in the book.  She is sold at the age of 4 and is beaten with a whip until she learns to not make any noise.  The lessons of the whip are so harsh that Summer, even at the age of 16, does not talk.   She communicates with expressions and by writing on a very few trusted people’s palms.  I have to throw in at this time that this is another time to send kudos to both the author and the reader in representing the thoughts and actions of summer, the author provides the perfect descriptions and the reader presents these words in such a manner that I could visualize easily the facial expressions and emotions of Summer.

    At the age of 6 Summer is sold to a Captain of a Pirate ship.  Yes this is modern times, and the pirates, capture ships and sell the cargo.  The Captain of this ship has a liking for large screen TVs and captures container ships carrying this cargo.  Throughout her life on the ship, Summer never talks and becomes the Captain’s favorite because she doesn’t talk.  This section of the book is told with flashbacks throughout her life on the ship to modern day of Summer at 16 years old with the flashbacks talking about different things that shaped her character.  One such event is one where she is nearly raped by a crew member but is saved by another slave, a boy near her age by the name of Landon.  Summer and Landon become best friends from then on.

    About halfway through the book a surprising event happens and the Pirate ship is boarded by The Secret Clock Society in search of Summer.  Jaiden, a slave from before Summer was sold to the pirates, is sent to find Summer, but instead she betrays the Society and helps Summer escape just as the ship explodes.  Jaiden and Summer manage to make it to shore, but are unsure of the fate of Landon.

    On shore a strange thing happens and the two wake up to the intrusion of a military force capturing the two girls and rounding up what are called “Outlanders.”  Summer strangely begins to feel something for the commander of the force, Gage, and for some odd reason trusts him, this trust comes from deep within and she doesn’t understand why when she has never trusted anyone in her life, except for Landon.

    Gage and the others are members of the Canadian military and reveal to Jaiden and Summer that they are now in the year 2210.  This is where it got really frustrating for me.  How did they travel through time? Why?  Summer is examined by a medical personnel and it is decided she is not in any shape to be taken to the Outlanders internment camp.  So she spends some time in a hospital where the years of starvation and severe beatings are treated.

    In the year 2210 the Canadian government has taken over most of the civilized world.  While the United States and the rest of the world were busy with World War III, the Canadians were tired of wars and wanted peace and were able to invade through covert actions and behind the lines invasions.  I found this odd but so did some of the other characters from the past so this part was not treated too lightly and an explanation is provided, but I will leave that up to you to discover.  One of the things that caused the Canadians to be able to take control was an “Exodus,” in which 200 million people disappeared.

    So how did Summer travel to the future? and why?  Well that is the fun of this story, and it would be a spoiler, so I won’t be telling you, but it completely changes the character of Summer and all her friends new and old, and starts a saga that is only begun in this book one of “The Summer Chronicles.”  I’ll warn you now, don’t try and figure out why or how, just enjoy the great storytelling and when it is explained, just say, “Ahhh, of course.”  Oh also as is in most Young Adult fiction you have a bit of silly teen romance going, but that is not the bulk of the story, so just let that slide as well.

    • Jeff 11:25 PM on April 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good review!


    • MarthaE 10:51 AM on May 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Glad you had a positive response to this book. So did I. I avoid reading other reviews until I get mine done. Funny how we focus on different things.
      Happy reading/listening!


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