Audio Book Review: Navigating The Stars by Maria V Snyder, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Book: Navigating The Stars by Maria V Snyder, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Self-Published January 2019 by the author|Length: 10 hours, 52 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Sentinels Of The Galaxy #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

 

Navigating the Stars is the first book in a new science fiction series.

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who.

I really liked Navigating The Stars!  I was pretty excited about it, because I really like Maria V Snyder, and I thought it would be fun to read something that’s not only sci-fi but set in space!

I liked Lyra, and even though she got herself into a lot of trouble, she really did like worming.  And it seemed like she had a knack for it too, which will be a good thing considering how things ended up for her.  Well, maybe.  It’s hard to say with everything that happened at the end of the book.  Especially with how people who worm end up having their own style, which seems like a signature to me.  I honestly don’t want to give anything away but certain things will make worming challenging for her.

One thing I really liked was how travel between planets affected aging.  It’s strange how Lyra had normal aging while going from Singhi to Eulan, but the friends she left behind aged decades.  They went to college, got married, had families, got jobs…all while she traveled from one planet to the next, and had no major life changes during that time.  I can’t imagine leaving friends knowing they’d live their whole lives while I stayed the same.  I found myself wanting to see that explored a little more but there was enough going on, and it wasn’t super important what with shadow blobs and disintegrating hearts and looters trying to kill her and then take her away once they realize she’s not really dead from when they tried to kill her the first time.

I knew, once Niall was introduced, that he and Lyra would end up together.  I’ve read a few of her series, so it wasn’t hard to figure to out who the love interest was.  It didn’t happen right away, which was nice, and it was something that took a while to happen.  I knew it would eventually, and I was a lot more interested in everything else going on.  I don’t feel invested in them as a couple yet, but they might grow on me as the series goes on.

There were a couple of things that took me out of the book.

The first is the fact that Lyra is 17.  I kept forgetting that she wasn’t 18 yet, but then her age would be mentioned, and I was startled by how young she was.  She seemed more in her early 20’s than 17, at least to me.  She was also on her own a lot, which I get because her parents had a lot to do work-wise.

And the other thing that took me out of things was the narration.  Just a little, but enough to take me out of the story.  Don’t get me wrong, Gabra Zackman is a great narrator.  If I see she’s narrated something, I will probably pick it up.  And she’s a big reason I went with the audio book for this one.  But the voices reminded me a lot of the ones from her Study series, and it was a little strange to be so reminded of characters from a completely different series.

On an unrelated note, I have no idea if I’m spelling any names correctly, because I listened.  I do feel a little bad about that, because I want to spell them correctly.  You’d think the planet names would be mentioned somewhere but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

The warriors were interesting, and considering she didn’t want to be an archaeologist like her parents, she spent a lot of time around the warriors.  She certainly figured out a lot of things, but security seemed to be what she was really interested in.  I don’t know if there’s a way for her to merge those two, but if anyone could, it would be Lyra.  Assuming she wanted to do both.  But she’s young, and she has a lot of time to decide.

4 stars.  I really liked Navigating The Stars, and I can’t wait to see what happens next, but there were a couple of things that took me out of the story .

Audio Book Review: Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Book: Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Published January 2017 by Harlequin Enterprises, LTD

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Soulfinders #3, Study #6

Genre: Adult Fantasy

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder brings her Poison Study series to its exhilarating conclusion.

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person’s resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

I still can’t believe it took me so long to actually get to this book!  I’m glad I did, but it’s bittersweet.  I mean, I’ve enjoyed this series since the very beginning, and I was excited to see it end, but at the same time, I’m sad it’s over.  I really like all of the characters, and I really like the world, but I’m also excited to see what Snyder will write next.

So, at this point in the series, I never felt like they were in any danger.  Things were really bad, of course, with the cartel taking over Sitia and controlling everything.  And the whole possibly being invaded by Ixia thing.  But I didn’t get the sense they were in horrible danger, like I did in the first 3 books.

I’ve really liked Valek in books 4-6.  He’s very protective of Yelena (but not controlling), and he’s different than the Valek we saw in the first half of the series.  Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read those books, but he is different than I remember.  Clearly, he wants a more calm life with Yelena.  Well, as calm as things can be when these two are involved in pretty much anything.

I loved following all of the characters, and it was great to see characters like Leif, Ari and Janco, but it was also great to spend time with characters like Reema, Fisk and Teegan.  It was good to have some chapters from Valek’s POV, but I think that’s part of why I didn’t feel a sense of danger, you knew what was going in Sitia and Ixia, and it took away from it a little bit.  At the same time, though, it was nice to get more backstory on one of my favorite characters.

I missed seeing Yelena use her magic, and I missed her conversations with Kiki most of all, but I also liked seeing her learn how to live/survive without it.  Also…I know this is the last book in the series, but part of me wants a spin-off or sequel focusing on her child.  I really do wonder what her abilities are, and it would be cool to see how the child of Yelena and Valek turned out.  One can only hope it’ll happen someday, but even if it doesn’t, at least we know how things turn out.  Things did end up on a good note, and I’m pretty happy with how things were resolved.

I also love Gabra Zackman as the narrator.  She’s been an amazing narrator this entire series, and I can’t imagine the series being narrated by anyone else.  I specifically got Snyder’s Touch Of Power series on audio because it’s narrated by Zackman, even though I already have the e-books.  Zackman really brought Yelena and Valek to life, and I’m glad she was the sole narrator, because I can’t imagine anyone else narrating Valek’s chapters.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, but I still really enjoyed it, and it’s a great ending to the series.

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara, Narrated By Gabra Zackman

Book: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search For The Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Published February 2018 by HarperAudio|Length: 9 hours 45 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/True Crime

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark —the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

After hearing about this book on My Favorite Murder, I knew I had to read it!  I ended up going with the audio book, since I really like the narrator, Gabra Zackman.

It’s part true crime story about the Golden State Killer, and part memoir.  I really liked hearing more about the how she investigated the case, and her interest in true crime, especially knowing that there’s a suspect in custody, and knowing that she passed away while writing the book.

It really struck me how determined she was to find out who he was and how much time she put into figuring out who did it.  It really saddens me that she didn’t live long enough to see it happen.  She doesn’t shy away from how much the case took over her life, and it’s a big part of the book.

McNamara really shows how terrifying his crimes were, and you feel the frustration of the detectives who keep hitting dead ends.  You feel how much the victims lives were changed, and yet, she never exploits their stories.  She really brought this case to life, and she really had a unique way of telling this story.

It’s a shame she never got to finish the book, and I did appreciate that it’s noted what she had already finished, and what had been put together by her fellow researchers.  I’m glad that this book was able to be published.  Because of that, it does feel a little disjointed, particularly in the audio book.  At least, at seemed really noticeable in the audio book, that it jumped around a bit, and while it does make me wish she had been able to finish writing, it is unavoidable considering the circumstances.

There’s an amazing attention to detail, and yet, it doesn’t feel like too much.  She has a lot of empathy for the victims, their families, and all of the people who worked on catching this guy.  While listening, I wanted them to find a break in the case, while knowing that when this book was being written, it was quite a ways off.  Even though I’ll Be Gone In The Dark felt very personal, it also felt objective.  She fact-checked and interviewed and researched, and it never felt biased, even though you knew she wanted the guy who did it to be caught.

This book is definitely worth checking out.  The audio does have sections narrated by Gillian Flynn and Patton Oswald (to whom McNamara was married to before her death), though most of the book is narrated by Zackman.  Zackman is one of my favorite narrators for a reason, and she really brought this book to life.

As for the Golden State Killer (since I feel like I’ve talked more about McNamara than the case she devoted years to researching), this is not a book to read or listen when you’re home alone…especially at night.  It’s terrifying how much planning he did, and I can certainly see why people were terrified.  His crimes stopped before I was born, but it’s terrifying to think that about how scared everyone must have been, knowing this guy was out there, but not caught.

5 stars.  McNamara did such an amazing job at bringing this story to life.  Zackman did a great job narrating as well, and if you like true crime, you really like this book.  To be honest, I think everyone should read it, regardless of your interest in true crime.