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Norma Miles

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  • Controlling Cosette

  • My Beautiful Suicide, Book 2
  • By: Atty Eve
  • Narrated by: Michelle Sparks
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Cosette Hugo thought she had fulfilled her wish for a beautiful suicide, but she survived. As she begins the slow road to recovery, the guilt of what she has done has become overwhelming. She vows to put her murderous alter ego, Bonnie, behind her forever. In order to do this, Cosette must rescue Hilda and keep the truth about Hilda's kidnapping a secret. During the rescue things go wrong, and Cosette is forced to kill again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • If you don't ask the question,I won't have to lie.

  • By Norma Miles on 14-08-18

If you don't ask the question,I won't have to lie.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-08-18

Controlling Cossette continues from the conclusion of My Beautiful Suicide, and it is definitely advisable to be familiar with that book before commencing this, the second in the series.

Being impressed with the originality and pace of book one, as well as being intrigued by the futures of the main protagonists, this reader came to this second part with pleasurable anticipation combined with the expectation of something new and different. It would be very hard to leave even a brief synopsis without spoilers, suffice it to say this reader would have preferred the story to had ended with book one, the originality of My Beautiful Suicide seemingly disintegrating into an alternative Buffy, the Vampire Slayer plot line, with additional off screen sex romps and sado masochism. And loads more baths! With a third book which will, hopefully, return to something more creative, book two has the feeling of a filler between the tales, setting the scene for a more fulfilling climax.

Once again, however, the narration is excellent, with Michelle Sparks becoming the main protagonist, Cossette Hugo, interpreting her first person account with clarity and enthusiastic emotion. Another good performance which kept this reader listening to the end.

My thanks to the rights holder of Controlling Cossette who, at my request, freely gifted me a complimentary copy, via Audiobook Boom. Sadly, it was a disappointment and, if I'm totally brutal, unlike it's predecessor, rather tedious. Not a book that I could recommend: it didn't even have the feel of plausibility. However, I am still interested in reading book three to see where this whole enterprise is headed.

  • My Beautiful Suicide

  • My Beautiful Suicide Series, Volume 1
  • By: Atty Eve
  • Narrated by: Michelle Sparks
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Her brother died. Her parents divorced. Her high school bully is relentless. Cosette doesn't have a lot to live for, but it isn't until she accidentally kills someone that Cosette makes the decision to take her own life. Unwilling to bring shame to her mom, best friend Mattie, or her boyfriend Chris, Cosette decides the best method of suicide is to become a victim of the local serial killer, The Poser. But every time she goes out to find him she gets attacked; her instincts take over, and she ends up killing her attackers. This quickly leads to unbearable guilt. Desperate to finish this before she gets caught or racks up more victims, Cosette does the unthinkable.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You should be able to manoeuvre a bathroom by now.

  • By Norma Miles on 14-08-18

You should be able to manoeuvre a bathroom by now.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-08-18

Life was miserable for Cossette Hugo. Her older brother, Victor, had come back a hero from Iraq when she was just 13, only to be killed by a motorist texting on his mobile phone not long after. Cossette had loved and admired her brother and missed him terribly. Her parents had split up then, his father leaving to marry a blond bimbo named Tawny, taking the house, the money and pretty much everything else apart from her, forcing his mother to work double shifts at the hospital to simply pay the bills of both of them. But it meant she didn't see her mum much. To make everything even worse, now over two years later, a gorgeous looking girl named Hilda Dyson, was making life at school unbearable with her bullying attacks which terrified Cossette and left her bruised and in trouble with the Principal.

Cossette's only constant pleasure was the company of her Christian friend, Matty, and her kind and generous family, and running through the streets at night: a possibly dangerous occupation now, given the serial rapist killer who has been operating in the town. She wished she were dead but suicide is weak and cowardly and also selfish: she couldn't do that to her mother. Then suddenly things became even worse for her. And she developes a crazy plan.

My Beautiful Suicide is an unusual book which begins as a fairly normal story with one teenage schoolgirl with such a lot going for her but unable to see past her daily terrors, to something else entirely. Well written, it makes for compulsive reading as Cossette's life spirals out of control in her quest for the perfect suicide whilst, at the same time, actually provides her with reasons to stay alive. The main protagonists, and Cossette and her school lunch time friend, the athletic Chris, are quite well drawn and the book becomes a mix of incipient romance, Christian advice from ever patient and loyal Matty, terrors and disgust of a personal kind, a murder mystery (not hard to see the resolution of the who-dun-it?) anger problems and alienation, and very frequent baths. The story line is compelling, keeping the reader's interest alive, like Cossette herself, throughout.

The book is greatly enhanced by the performance of Michelle Sparks, who slightly breathy and youthful voice is the perfect foil for Cassette, who is relating her story in the first person. Ms.Sparks reads with emotion, good intonation and expression and even also gives seperate, if only slightly different, voices to the other protagonists. Even the longer than expected pauses between chapters encourages a tension. Hers is a performance which really carries the story forward.

An easy read if not always comfortable, it is not a book for young people despite the protagonists ages, given the content covered. But recommended for more adult readers who enjoy reading about the darker aspects of the mind and of the world itself.

  • The Judas Cypher

  • By: Greg Dragon
  • Narrated by: Tucker McDougall
  • Length: 7 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

Dhata Mays has become used to living on the fringes. Unlike most of humanity, the detective treats the synth population with the respect they deserve. But when a gruesome murder points to a synth as the perpetrator, Dhata must do everything in his power to discover an explanation before the case goes public. In a race against time, Dhata discovers a scheme involving cypher hackers, synth prostitutes, and a pair of rival gang bosses that could tear the city apart. For Dhata to keep the uneasy peace, he'll have to track down the murderers himself, but no one said he had to take them alive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Much excitement and many surprises

  • By Placid on 15-08-18

It always rains in this d***ed city.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-08-18

Tampa, and the Synths are almost indistinguishable from humans. But that doesn't stop people from hating them. And killing them. Dhata Mays and his friend, Jason, are trying to keep the uneasy peace: Jason in the police force and Dhata working for him as a PI. They both know that it would take just one major incident and the whole city could blow apart.
Then a body is found, it's backbone removed, clean, almost surgical, the work of a professional. It's happened before, Synth body parts harvested to be sold for use used in upgrades. But this time the victim isn't a synth. Now why would anyone want the backbone of an human judge?

The second in the Dhata Mays stories, Greg Dragon's sad and seedy vision of a post apocalyptic future is cleverly crafted to world build distinct images in the mind. Dhata himself is well characterised, less so the other protagonists but still sufficient to make them remarkable personalities. I would say 'colourful', but the overall lingering perception is grey, despite some towering glass buildings. Narrator Tucker McDougall again gives a good performance, his slightly lagubrious tone loping through the story capturing Dhata's personality. His pacing is good as is his voicings of the other protagonists, distinct and appropriate.

My thanks to the rights holder of The Judas Cypher who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy, via Audiobook Boom. Although the second in the series, this book is entirely stand alone, it's complex mystery more intriguing and involving than the first. Fast paced, it frequently demands an emotional response from the reader of shock and outrage and occasional sadness. An altogether satisfying story. Recommended for all S.F. fans of action packed, futuristic thrillers.

  • Make Bright the Arrows

  • Flights of the Nanshe, Book 1
  • By: S. A. Huchton
  • Narrated by: Starla Huchton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

What starts off as a simple retrieval of stolen goods turns deadly when Leena Espinoza discovers a girl stashed in a cellar, her guardian murdered. The crew has a soft spot for hard cases, and despite Delilah's odd behavior, offers help instead of turning her over to the authorities. But what they don't know might kill them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Quack, quack!

  • By Norma Miles on 12-08-18

Quack, quack!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-08-18

A routine, if unexpected, delivery of a package by the all female crew of the almost legitimate retrieval ship, the Nanshe,, finds the named recipient dead and a young girl hiding in a cellar. She says she's fifteen but looks no older than twelve. And she is terrified. And talking in biblical phrases. Not knowing what else to do since she is obviously alone and had probably been abused, the crew take her on board and Lena, the most recent of the seven members, is tasked with caring for her until she can be delivered to a Convent community a few days travel distant.
And then it all goes wrong.

Fast paced, intriguing and well written, this first book of a new space adventure series is both exciting and, at times, amusing with good characterisation and dialogue. The women on board are very individualistic, far from perfect loners but with an intense loyalty of family to each other. They try to do what is right but in this futuristic world, that isn't always clear and rarely easy.
A good series introduction, starting gently but rapidly building into cosmic action, it is also narrated by the author, S.A.Huckton, which can frequently be a big mistake, but in this case her performance definitely enhances the listening experience. Her reading is clear, well paced, with good intonation and adherence to the nuances of the text. Her character voicings are superb, very distinctive and different and with a variety of accents, increasing the feeling of really getting to know the crew. I very much look forward to book two with Ms.Huckton once again narrating.

My thanks to the rights holder who, at my request, freely gifted me a complimentary copy of Make Bright the Arrows, via Audiobook Boom. Recommended for all who enjoy S.F.stories of space adventuring. It's good, serious, fighting fun.

  • Petty Magic

  • Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker
  • By: Camille DeAngelis
  • Narrated by: Kelley Hazen
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Evelyn Harbinger sees nothing wrong with a one-night stand. At 149 years old, Eve may look like she bakes oatmeal cookies in the afternoon and dozes in her rocking chair in the evening, but once the gray hair and wrinkles are traded for jet-black tresses and porcelain skin, she can still turn heads as the beautiful girl she once was. Can't fault a girl for having a little fun, can you?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Do you believe in reincarnation?

  • By Norma Miles on 12-08-18

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-08-18

Before running this review, a confession. This reader is not usually fond of books which, at their heart, revolve around witches or romance. This book does both. So why the accolade? In part, the totally unexpected approach to those practitioners of spells and the excellent storytelling, and also the wonderful performance of the narrator, Kelley Hazen.

Ms.Hazen has a voice of musical honey, deeply delicious to the ear, well articulated and intoned. It would be a pleasure to hear her simply read a telephone book. But this story is far from that and she uses her skill as narrator to breath life into all of the characters, both male and (mostly) female with distinctively individual voices as well as becoming the beldame story teller.

Written in the first person, the central character, Evelyn, admits the reader to her lifestyle and the society of her large association of family and friends. Her witches are not eternal but they can expect a far longer life than most mere mortals and at the start of her confessions, she is almost one hundred and fifty, no longer the attractive young thing she used to be but still able to appear to be so for a limited time. Before her energies fade and she returns to her more elderly appearance. This way she can still enjoy one-nightly daliances with attractive, much younger men. And does - but just the one night each time...

Until the nephew of the elderly (only human) local antique dealer arrives to take over the shop. He reminds her so much of her one true love so many decades before and the story then takes the reader through alternating accounts of her life before and during World War II and her time with Jonah, and the present day growing, but doomed, romance with Justin. And throughout those present day reflections, there are delightful peeks into the great family assembly for Christmas, internal dispute, and tips on travelling more quickly and in privacy than most of us would ever encounter.

Yes, this is witches as different from the usual spell casters as is likely to be found. Instead , the book is a concoction of old fashioned glamour, close relationships, lost love and youth - and often hilariously funny. It is paced quite slowly for the reader to enjoy every delicious morsel My deepest thanks to the rights holder who, at my request, freely gifted me a complimentary copy of Petty Magic, via Storyteller. It was a joy and a delight, a perfect pairing of author and narrator. Highly recommended, even if romance and witches are not your usual genre.

  • Good Bones

  • By: L. A. Kelley
  • Narrated by: Ruth Redman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

No matter how challenging the case, psychologist Katherine Fleming never shirks from helping a patient confront a painful issue. Her keen powers of observation and compassionate nature have eased many troubled souls, but a homicide detective with a buried secret of his own stirs more than just clinical interest. The first time Detective Jake Sumner spied the old house, he sensed the good bones. Little did he know the purchase of the property included an unusual tenant far from resting in peace. Can the new psychologist in town help him treat a ghostly trauma case?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • You're my good girl now.

  • By Norma Miles on 12-08-18

You're my good girl now.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-08-18

When newly graduated counsellor, Catherine Flemming, lands a job with a respected firm in Florida, she delights in the prospect of warmer days and gathering clients of her own. A chance meeting with a chatty local broadcaster gives her the opportunity of free advertising by being interviewed by popular Parker Pratt. Her programmed interview follows that of Miss Harmony, a dubious psychic who claims that it is not she but her sleepy white cat who is the actual communicator with the dead. When Miss Harmony decides suddenly to leave town, her cat is left behind and inherited by Catherine.

Jake Sumnor, detective, is very troubled. A recent shooting incident has him on paperwork assignments only until being passed as fit for active duty and he is miserable about the delay. Especially as he thinks he might have shot the wrong man despite everyone else believing it was a righteous kill. And then there is his house. Bought only a month before at an auction, it is already driving him crazy with strange temperature changes, sounds and flashing lights. Is he going mad, or is the house actually haunted?
When Jake and Catherine meet, there is an instant attraction, but first they will have to find and stop a serial killer no one had known was there.

This is a fun story, well presented, with a mix of genres from murder mystery, through gentle romance to psychic cats and things that go bump in the night. Sometimes creepy, often funny, it works because the characterisation, though stereotypical, is good. The who-dun-it? later turns to ahow-to-proove-it? but the gentle jollity never stops.
Narrated by Ruth Redman, the text flows along at a natural pace. Her reading is clear, pleasant and well intoned. Her character voices are also distinctive and appropriate. A good choice to recount this book.

My thanks to the rights holder of Good Bones who, at my request, freely gifted me a complimentary copy via Audiobook Boom. It is a light-hearted read with just a touch of the unpleasant horrors of serial killings. Hard to classify, it really is an eclectic mix of genres.

  • My Take Away Vampire

  • A Novella with Bite
  • By: Derek Haines
  • Narrated by: Persephone Rose
  • Length: 1 hr and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

After a long and predictable vampiric existence, trouble is now afoot for Agatha Grace, however. Redheaded, freckled, and occasionally a little slow on the uptake, young Reggie stumbles into Agatha’s predictability and turns it on its head as he is struck by his first real dose of love at first sight. Add the overprotective, rhyming ghost of a dead poet, a snarling black wolf, some cops, and Agatha’s preference for the 1980s' fashion of miniskirts, satin halter-neck tops, and knotted white blouses, and things just may go awry.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fed well, it would seem. It wasn't a dream.

  • By Norma Miles on 08-08-18

Fed well, it would seem. It wasn't a dream.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

An enjoyable short story, nicely performed by Penelope Rose.
This is a spoof vampire tale of Agatha, a young farmer's daughter, turned on her fifteenth birthday. She haunts MacDonalds, hopefully looking for virile young men to 'embrace', so was usually hungry and desperate. Her only real friend lies in the cemetery plot next to hers, a rhyming ghost.

Penelope Rose's narration adds just the right dash of mystery and humour, and is well paced with good intonation and differentiated character voicings. Fun plot, shame about the verses, and certainly different from usual vampire expectations: definitely worth a read.

  • Death Match

  • The Coastal Suspense Series, Volume 2
  • By: Emma Rose Watts
  • Narrated by: Sandra Murphy
  • Length: 5 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

After a beautiful woman with ties to a local matchmaking service falls to her death on Valentine's Day, Franklin County demands answers. So when Captain Joe Davenport assigns the investigation to Detective Skylar Reid and Harvey Baker, it’s only a matter of time before trouble ensues. And when Harvey discovers the unscrupulous Callum Jackson may be behind it, nothing will stop him until he proves it, even if his witch hunt could cost him his marriage, his sanity, and his badge. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Let's see what Willy Wonka has behind these doors.

  • By Norma Miles on 08-08-18

Let's see what Willy Wonka has behind these doors.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

A disgruntled police officer out to get a business man he believes was responsible for his sister's death.
An Elite match making business.
Two young women dead, both from the same model agency and a third showing similar whip marks on her back.
A fiesty, somewhat maverick officer new to small town policing with little regard to following orders

An OK small town murder mystery which simply didn't ring true, mostly because of the attitudes of the two main protagonists, both of whom seem determined to bring about a result they want rather than following procedures. This reader found both of them unsympathetic, which definitely affected judgement of the book. Occasional attempts at humour fell flat, as much by bad timing of the narrator as well as the writing itself.
Having said that, Sandra Murphy's narration was clear, well moderated and her character voices were individually articulated, breathing life into the protagonists. Unfortunately, the interactive dialogue was shallow and frequently not really believable. Plus how can two already hard drinking protagonists get laid low with massive hangovers after just three cans of beer and half a bottle of wine? Still, it is an interesting cozy romp to fill a dull afternoon.

My thanks to the rights holder who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy of Death Match, via Audiobook Boom. Although the second in the Coastal Suspense Series, it works well as a standalone with just occasional references to things that have gone before. Worth a read if Cosies are your preferred genre.

  • Galaxy's Edge, Part II

  • Galaxy's Edge, Book 2
  • By: Jason Anspach, Nick Cole
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 15 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 125
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 125

Legion Dark Ops calls upon Chhun, Wraith, and the survivors of Victory Company to form an elite Kill Team of legionnaires in the aftermath of the Battle of Kublar. Their mission is clear: find and eliminate those responsible for the Kublar disaster. Standing between them and their objective are a maze of corrupt Republic officials, a spy on the verge of losing himself in deep cover, and the Zhee - a murderous species that will stop at nothing. But the biggest threat of all might be the truth they seek to uncover - a truth that could ignite a revolution. And engulf the galaxy in flames.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Galaxy's Edge, 2 Parts

  • By Matt Carter on 26-06-18

Mark 'em, load 'em and get ready to chew 'em up.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

Such fantastic value for a credit: two full and excellent novels, both standalone but with interconnected aspects between these and the previous stories. Both are action packed, but the second, in particular, never stops as space battle rages through the galaxy and the reader is carried from ship to ship, sides both claiming the right to victory when seen through the eyes of the players. This reader enjoys military action but usually only in proportion to a non action ongoing story. But this book was different : so well written, it held attention from the first pages to the ending. The reader is swirled through the desperate engagements, political deceptions, and hopes and fears of the various protagonists, sympathies tugged from one to another. Phenomenal.

The preceding story is more planet bound, face to face action as the few survivors of Victory company following the disaster that was Kubbar, are recruited to Black Ops, and we are introduced to the whisper of a rumour that was Nether Ops, and a man named Tom.
The characterisations are excellent, with real life, three dimensional people living, dying, laughing, remembering, hurting, fighting and bleeding across the pages. Narrator, A.C.Bray brings everything even more to life with his excellent performance, with well modulated and paced text reading and individually appropriate voices for every protagonist. The perfect symbiosis of narrator and authors' text.
It is for stories like this, there should be an extra super star rating. And for anyone who enjoys intelligent and immaginative military space opera, this is a must read book.

  • Warrior King

  • Star Legions: The Terran Wars, Book 1
  • By: Michael G. Thomas
  • Narrated by: J. Scott Bennett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

An apocalyptic war looms, and few believe it is a war that can be won. As Terran colonies evacuate, the mighty Laconians stand alone against the merciless Median Empire. They will never surrender, and their new King, Agesilaus, has a scheme that could transform the fortunes of all Terrans. As leader of the most powerful of the Terran states, he plans the unthinkable. Inspired by the valor and adventures of the infamous Ten Thousand mercenaries, he launches a pre-emptive strike against the Empire.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Usual Good Standards

  • By Scott R on 07-08-18

Something serious is happening.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-18

War can be confusing for those involved. If writing about it, though, it rests with authors to bring clarity if they wish to hold their readers. As the book begins, battles are fought, soldiers slaughtered, betrayals occur and saviours intervene, ships crash down and missiles fall as many unfamiliar (and sometimes unpronounceable) names are constantly being presented - names of people, places, buildings, ships, communities, beliefs, weapon types, warriors and different communities. It wasn't until chapter six that a vague pattern seemed to emerge and the namings became more intelligible.

War is coming. The merciless Median Empire is recruiting soldiers and warriors from inside the empire and machines from the Robotic domains. The Terrain Empire is under attack, with Agesilaus and his sister, Kynisca of the militaristic planet, Laconia, trying to raise an army with little help even from his own people. This is a mix of futuristic ships and weapons combined with Greek mythology and Spartan values which almost works. The story plot itself was good, the world building quite sufficient with some fine visualisations of major centres and descriptions of ships and guns. But more attention should have been given to his people - it is difficult to feel empathy for the two dimensional characters as the main protagonists seem to slide flatly through their missions and ideals whilst some weapons seem far more empowered with life.

Even the excellent narration of J.Scott Bennett could not fully bring the characters alive for this readere, despite giving distinctive voices to each one. His input did, however, make it possible to listen to the end. Just. A special mention must be made of his ability to effortlessly pronounce names (many, many names) both unfamiliar and slightly intimidating.

I usually enjoy the confrontation and battling between starships and colonies and all things science fiction, which is why I requested a copy of this book. And my thanks to the rights holder for freely gifting me a complimentary copy, via Audiobook Boom. But, although easy to comprehend after the initial confusion, for me the book never seemed to flow with energy or personality and I felt no allegiance to any of the protagonists. I simply did not care. Perhaps, had I been familiar with earlier books set within this universe, this might have been different.