Author: Ian Doescher

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015

This last couple of weeks I’ve read some great and some not so great books.  Here they are.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015The Martian by Andy Weir
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Sci-Fi
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Now sci-fi isn’t my usual fare, especially where there is more emphasis on the science than the fiction, but The Martian has been getting so much buzz lately that I decided to check it out.  Within a few minutes of listening I was hooked by Watney’s situation; abandoned on Mars, has to use his ingenuity to survive in an inhospitable environment until rescue can come.  Written as it is in a first-person journalistic style this is a perfect book for the audiobook medium, and R.C. Bray did a wonderful job of bringing Mark to life.  Mark is a very witty and engaging protagonist and it is very easy to root for him.  Weir did a fantastic job of explaining the various challenges Mark encounters and his solutions in a way that was easily comprehensible to someone like me who is not science minded.  The story of Mark’s plight and his attempts to secure his rescue was very appealing on a human level.

I gave The Martian five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
Series: Agatha Raisin #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Mystery
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I picked up Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death some while ago when it was the Audible deal of the day.  It caught my eye because it was narrated by Penelope Keith, a favourite actress of mine. 

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first in a series of mystery novels about a retired London PR executive who moves to the English Cotswolds and solves crimes.  I must admit it’s not my favourite mystery series.  As a protagonist, Agatha is distinctly unappealing.  She is the kind of woman who thinks nothing of using a disabled parking space because it’s convenient, or in this case, presenting a store bought quiche in a competition as her own baking.  Her interactions with those around her are generally abrasive and self-centred.  I suspect that later on in the series she may become more likeable, but for this book, she wasn’t the pleasantest person to spend time with.  The mystery was fun.  I’m generally useless at predicting whodunnit, so I can’t say how clever it was.

What I did very much enjoy was the narration.  Growing up the UK, Ms Keith was a staple of comedy TV – The Good Life and To the Manor Born.  Check them out if you’ve not seen them.  She has over 45 years’ experience in television, theatre and radio, and it shows in her witty and competent handling of the narration.  

I gave Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death three stars out of five, but the narration merits five stars.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge by Ian Doescher
Series: William Shakespeare's Star Wars #3
Also in this series: The Empire Striketh Back, The Jedi Doth Return
Format: eBook
Pages: 168 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge is the last in Ian Doescher’s retelling of Star Wars in Shakespearean language. These are very clever, but my enjoyment of them reflects my enjoyment of the source material.  I did not enjoy the prequel trilogy nearly as much, and so I’ve not enjoyed the adaptation to the same extent.  The original trilogy is deliberately based on the Monomyth which gives it an epic feel, perfectly suiting it to a Shakespearean adaptation.  The prequel trilogy seems more based on special effects which doesn’t pass so well in a Shakespearean setting.

Also, when R2 started channeling Elsa from Frozen saying he should let it go and that the heat never bothered him anyway, I found that a little too distracting.  Your mileage may vary.

I gave The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge three and a half stars out of four.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #0.5
Also in this series: Glass Sword
Format: eBook
Pages: 45 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

I very much enjoyed Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, so I was keen to pick up the novella Queen Song set in the same world.  I found it very disappointing.  It had none of the great worldbuilding of the main novel and, to be perfectly honest, I found the book just depressing.  I am still very much looking forward to Glass Sword, book two in the series.

I gave Queen Song three stars out of five.

That’s all for this week folks.  See you next time.  Happy reading!

five-stars

Reading roundup – 3rd July 2014

Here in Canada Tuesday was the national holiday, Canada Day, so I had a day off work.  I was particularly pleased it fell on a Tuesday as that’s the day new books are released.  I was therefore able to spend a pleasant afternoon listening/reading The Jedi Doth Return, the third and final part in Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

Reading roundup – 3rd July 2014The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher
Series: William Shakespeare's Star Wars #3
Also in this series: The Empire Striketh Back
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 3 hours and 35 minutes
Genres: Classics, Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

As with the other two in the series, Verily a New Hope and The Empire Striketh Back, Random House Audio has done a fantastic job with the audiobook – it is a full cast audio with a talented cast and enhanced with sound effects and John Williams’ iconic music.  (Doetscher had the backing of George Lucas for this undertaking). Like the two earlier books, this is one I would recommend in audio format.  The cast is superb.  Audiobook listeners should remain right to the end for a cameo appearance by the Bard himself!

While I really enjoyed The Jedi Doth Return, I wasn’t quite a head over heels in love with it as I was with the previous two books.  Perhaps it’s because the novelty had worn off somewhat.  I still wish these had been available when I was at school studying Shakespeare!

I gave The Jedi Doth Return four stars out of five.

This week I have also been on a major Robin Hobb kick.  It’s been some time since I read her Farseer trilogy and as she has a new book in the Farseer series, Fool’s Assassin, coming out in August, I thought I should refresh my memory.  I’d forgotten how much fun the Farseer trilogy is, once you get over the initial painfully slow setup.  I read Assassin’s Apprentice and now I am onto Royal Assassin.

Added to my library this week

Random House of Canada was kind enough to give me an ARC of The Shadow’s Curse by Amy McCulloch.  This is the second in a YA fantasy duology started by The Oathbreaker’s Curse, which I also reviewed.  I’m interested to see if McCulloch does pick back up those plot points I in which I was most interested.

Nancy Richler’s The Impostor Bride was on special this week on Amazon.  This has been on my watch list for a while, mainly because it is set in my hometown of Montreal.  It seems to be a character driven chicklit drama.  It may be a while before I get round to reading it, but I will review it when I do.

That’s all for this week folks.  Have a good weekend!

four-stars

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – The Empire Striketh Back – Review

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – The Empire Striketh Back – ReviewThe Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
Series: William Shakespeare's Star Wars #2
Also in this series: The Jedi Doth Return
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Genres: Classics, Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher is the sequel to William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, a retelling of George Lucas’s space saga in the style of William Shakespeare.  I would strongly recommend picking this up as an audiobook rather than ebook or hard copy – Random House Audio’s production is top notch with an excellent cast.  It is far more like a radio play than an audiobook and the excellent cast does a wonderful job of telling the story.

What I liked

The source material.  The original Star Wars trilogy is a darn good story.  It contains a lot of strong themes which would have been as relevant in Shakespeare’s time as today: love, betrayal, youthful impetuousness, struggle against tyranny.  Doescher therefore has a strong base on which to base his adaptation.  It also isn’t too jarring, for example, when Han rails against Lando’s betrayal in Shakespearean language as it is a theme and emotion found in many of Shakespeare’s works.

Yoda.  On my first listen through I was a little disappointed that Yoda didn’t sound too different from the other characters.  In the movies, he has a unique speech pattern and I was hoping that this would be reflected in Empire Striketh Back.  It was only on reading Doescher’s commentary that I realised Yoda was speaking in haiku!  Darn I wished I’d picked that up first time.  This is intended to reflect Yoda’s role as Luke’s master – or sensei – in the mystical force giving an eastern feel to it.  Brilliant. Appropriate and brilliant.

The production.  Random House Audio has gone full out to make this a radio play rather than an audiobook.  We have a strong cast, sound effects (including the iconic swish of the lightsabres) as well as snippets of John Williams’ memorable soundtrack.  It all combines to make it a wonderful listen.  

Doescher’s Notes and Commentary.  I the ebook edition I also possess, Doescher adds some commentary explaining some of the creative decisions he made while writing Empire.  This, combined with the teachers notes provides a fascinating new insight into the book.

What I didn’t like

There was nothing, I tell you, nothing i disliked about The Empire Striketh Back.  I already have The Jedi Doth Return on pre-order.  As the trailer says “these are the books you have been looking for.”

five-stars

Reading Roundup – 14th February 2014

This week I have read some fun books.  The first of these is William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher.  Doescher has taken the script for George Lucas’s Star Wars movie and translated it into Shakespearean English, complete with the Bard’s iconic iambic pentameter.

Reading Roundup – 14th February 2014William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher
Series: William Shakespeare's Star Wars #1
Also in this series: The Empire Striketh Back, The Jedi Doth Return
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 3 hrs and 31 mins
Genres: Classics, Contemporary Fantasy, Genre Bender
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In short, this is the most brilliant piece of writing I have read in a long time.  I am a big fan of the original trilogy Star Wars movies and it’s just incredible how well they work in Shakespearean language.  Doescher studied Shakespeare and is also a big sci-fi geek and his understanding of both media comes across very well.  The dichotomy of the sci-fi content in old fashioned language adds a real interest to the writing.  It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to play “spot the (adapted) Shakespeare quotation.”  For example, we have “Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not” referencing Hamlet’s thoughts on Yorrick.

I have both the audiobook (narrated by a troupe of Shakespearean actors including the author himself) and I strongly recommend experiencing William Shakespeare’s Star Wars in audiobook format rather than the written word.  The cast really brings it to life.

Here’s a sample:

I gave William Shakespeare’s Star Wars a resounding five stars out of five.

Hobbit LessonsDon’t Even Think About it by Sarah Mlynowski
Genres: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Pages: 336 pages
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three-half-stars

I was given the chance to review Don’t Even Think About it by Sarah Mlynowski for an honest review through Netgalley.  It is an upcoming young adult novel in which a class of teenagers suddenly develops the ability to hear peoples’ thoughts after receiving a vaccine.  Mlynowski explores both the positive and negative sides of the ability in quite an interesting and thoughtful way and there is quite a bit of humour in the book as well.  The characters weren’t particularly well developed – pretty typical two dimensional teens.

All in all though it’s a fun, quick read.  I gave Don’t Even Think About it three and a half stars out of five.

Bobby Ether and the AcademyBobby Ether and the Academy by R. Scott Boyer
Genres: Young Adult
Format: ARC 
Pages: 368 pages 
Buy from Amazon •

Bobby Ether and the Academy by R. Scott Boyer was the second book I received free to review through Netgalley.  It tells the story of a boy who discovers he has supernatural powers and is taken off to a safe place for protection.

I have read the first few chapters of the book, and in all honesty, I doubt I will finish it.  While I am grateful for the opportunity to review it, i has so far failed to grab my attention and the impression I have is that it is written for a younger audience.  Now some books of that kind can transcend age groups – I’m thinking Harry Potter or Percy Jackson – but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Now, there is nothing inherently bad in what I have read, and a different audience may love it.  For that reason I’m not going to give it a rating as I think it was just not really what I was looking for in a read.  Feel free to check it out and let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it.

Added to my library this week

This week Audible had a first-book-in-the-series sale so I went a little mad.  I picked up The Fairy-Tale Detectives: The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley just because it sounded like a lot of fun.  For some reason, the Kindle book I own of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies isn’t the one that’s Whispersync for Voice enabled, which is annoying, so I took advantage of the sale to pick up the audiobook.  The final book I picked up from the sale was Enclave by Ann Aguirre, mainly because I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about this series. 

Finally I picked up Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in Kindle format. I’ve been seeing some YouTube videos of the author and his new wife, Tahereh Mafi of Unravel Me fame, and they are both just so cute and funny.  It really made me want to read their books.

That’s all I have this week – what are you planning to read?

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