VINDOLANDA Hit All the Hallmarks of Historical Fiction

I love finding great things in unexpected places.

Vindolanda is the first in a series of historical fiction novels about the Roman Empire in Britain circa 98 CE.

I found this novel when searching for books about the Celtic goddess Brigantia. Not exactly related, but what I found was a compelling fictional story that had the detailed approach of a history book. Continue reading “VINDOLANDA Hit All the Hallmarks of Historical Fiction”

THE SISTERS, by Dervla McTiernan – Quick Detective Listen with Great Characters

If you’ve been paying attention to my Goodreads recently, you know I’ve polished off a couple of Audible’s Originals — short stories published exclusively on that platform.

I’m rather impressed with what Audible has put out on that front, including “The Sisters,” by Dervla McTiernan

Having read very little in the crime-detective genre, I was intrigued by “The Sisters,” mostly as a gateway story to the larger Cormac Reilly series by McTiernan. This story is somehow a prequel or a prelude to the larger series, so I was interested to dip my toe in. What I found was an interesting story with great characters, and I sort of just want to read more about them.

Airfric and Carrie are sisters, a barrister and a garda respectively, and both are eager to make names for themselves in their careers. Carrie becomes entangled in a suspicious murder case that Airfric is defending, and ends up helping to solve it against the wishes of the detectives in her squad.

Honestly, by the time the real detective aspect of this story got under way, it was halfway over. I really enjoyed both Carrie and Airfric as POV characters, but I wanted this story to have more meat to it.

A few weeks removed from listening to this, it feels like the first third of this two-hour listen was just Airfric going about one particularly bad day as a junior barrister, until she stumbles into this case.

Again, I loved Airfric as a POV character. McTiernan’s style is easy to grasp but not lacking in emotional depth. I think she excels in brevity that somehow carries added layers to it. I just wish I either had more time to spend in this story, or that the real story had begun sooner.

Just as you get used to Airfric’s voice and get into her part, the POV switches to her sister, Carrie. Carrie, the garda, was also a great character. Aside from their slightly different accents (both achieved by the narrator and noted in the story by other characters), it’s easy to glimpse of bit of Carrie and Airfric’s relationship, and hear the lifelong bond. Still, both have distinct narrative voices that play off each other well.

Once Carrie really digs into this case she’s not supposed to be involved with — because obviously — the story moves even more quickly and then ends, rather abruptly.

I think this could have been a novella, or even more, with the care that is given to these characters’ personalities and background. That’s really my only gripe with this story: it’s too damn short.

Aiofe McMahon was also a fantastic narrator. Who doesn’t love a melodious Irish accent? But for real, I’m finding that I will actively search out books narrated by specific people, simply because their voices are so pleasant to listen to, and they are talented vocal actors. I will definitely be listening to more of her McMahon’s work in audiobooks.

Steve D

THE ISLAND by S. Usher Evans – A Light Survival Adventure

I used my time at the beach last week fairly well, if I do say so. I managed to read about 85% of a book in about six days, which is a much faster clip than I usually make.

The Island by S. Usher Evans is the first in her Madion War Trilogy, which I picked up at Awesome Con in April. After talking with the author for a few minutes, I decided to buy all three books at a discount.

After finishing book one, that seems like a pretty good decision. The Island is a solid adventure story that was easy to digest on a lazy vacation. Continue reading “THE ISLAND by S. Usher Evans – A Light Survival Adventure”

CLICK. by Luther M. Siler – Quick, Fun, Inter-Dimensional Action

I got Click. directly from the author after I won a contest on his site. I was the first to comment a random word from a video he posted, proving I actually watched it.

Click. is an exciting and action-packed story that’s easy to digest and hard to put down. As is typical with Siler’s stories, the dialogue is snappy and sarcastic, with one-liners and pop culture references peppered throughout.

Continue reading “CLICK. by Luther M. Siler – Quick, Fun, Inter-Dimensional Action”

Quick Rip: Of Monster’s and Men’s New Sound?

“Alligator” is the first single from Of Monsters and Men’s third album. Fever Dream Comes out July 26, and the first single already has me wondering is we will yet again hear an evolved sound from the fascinating Icelandic group.

This performance on Fallon features the five main members–they usually have 3-5 touring members–playing a layered chorus of distorted guitars that more closely resembles post-rock than the band’s previous alternative folk rock sound.

Maybe “Alligator” will be anomalous on the new album, but a move in this direction actually makes sense to me. 2011’s My Head is an Animal had an airy feel with lots of vocal choruses. 2015’s Beneath the Skin still used a lot of acoustic sounds and vocal harmonies, but its tone was darker and hinted at the more ambient, emotive power of their music.

Whatever direction the band has chosen, I’ll be happy. Of Monsters and Men has (clearly) become known for long droughts between albums, but each one feels fresh and unique. I can’t wait to  hear what Fever Dream sounds like.

Steve D

“Black Crow, White Snow” – Book Review

I picked up Black Crow, White Snow by Michael Livingston from Audible’s free Originals program. It was part of May’s slate of free shorts. To be honest, I had mostly ignored Audible’s Originals to this point; I just didn’t see much value in it.

But after listening to Livingston’s short story in just two days (it’s only 2.5 hours long), I’ll have to pay closer attention to the free books Audible offers. Continue reading ““Black Crow, White Snow” – Book Review”

“Everything Trump Touches Dies” – Book Review

I listened to Everything Trump Touches Dies by conservative campaign strategist Rick Wilson on Audible. Narrated by Wilson and dripping with snarky disgust, ETTD  is an unflinching and unforgiving evisceration of the Trump campaign and administration through its first year-plus.

Continue reading ““Everything Trump Touches Dies” – Book Review”

Thoughts from the Game of Thrones Premier

If you can’t tell from the glut of content flooding every website, Game of Thrones is back. But I can’t just stay out of the fray during the biggest television series finale ever.

I have reactions too! For now, I’m just going to get my own notes on the season 8 premier on proverbial paper.

Beware… Here be spoilers!

Continue reading “Thoughts from the Game of Thrones Premier”

Review: “The Price of Inequality” is Heavy on Rhetoric, Light on Much Else

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by economist Joseph E. Stiglitz is in many ways a reaction to the Great Recession of 2008 and the US’s response to it.

I listened to this book on Audible, which likely impacts the way I feel about it. In short, I probably could have used the footnotes available in the print version. Continue reading “Review: “The Price of Inequality” is Heavy on Rhetoric, Light on Much Else”