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As did many of the other reviewers, I bought this for the presence of one story - "Virgins" by Diana Gabaldon. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I knew what I was getting into. I'd like to address two points they have made. I'm going to try doing this without spoilers, but be warned: I may slip and spoil.
First, there were gender issue complaints, either that the women weren't really dangerous, or that there were too many stories from a man's point of view. I disagree on both counts. I don't think inherently dangerous women are necessarily aware of it. I would imagine, for example, that both of the women in "I Know How to Pick 'Em" thought of herself, not as dangerous, but rather as needy. It is only the narrator that saw the danger in the woman that picks him up, and only the reader that sees the danger in inherent in the narrator's mother. The same is true of "Wrestling Jesus." Only the narrator knows where the true danger lies.
In these two stories, as in several others, the danger seems to be similar to the stance I heard described in North Africa. Boys would tell me, "Women are dangerous." When I asked them to explain, they would only repeat themselves, and perhaps add that I should be well aware of why women were to be feared and avoided. Listening to them I got the feeling that as an American, and a teacher, there were far more dangers about me that made the threat of my gender insignificant. As I lived there, for over seven years, I further came to understand that it was less related to the lure of sex, and more to the power that women had over sons, husbands, and brothers. It was less that they could hold others sexually in thrall, and more that they were not influenced by desire in the same way men were, making them more on top of a situation because of the lack of distraction. The dangerousness of many of the women in these stories is this sort of danger. They are intimidating, although they don't mean to be. They put themselves in danger both unwittingly and on purpose. But it is their logical, systematic approach to the tribulations of their lives that make them dangerous.
Certainly there are some women who were truly dangerous and aware of it, but even they would say they were acting out of necessity and not because of some internal sense of daring-do. In the first story, "Some Desperado," the narrator is just trying to survive, and survive she does. She is ruthless, and certainly dangerous to the men she confronts. But the bottom line is that she does nothing to them that they wouldn't do to her first. Is this truly dangerous? I suppose in the sense that a stove is dangerous, yes, but not in the same way a wolverine is something to be avoided.
This brings me to the second point. There is, among other reviewers, a certain amount of whining about the fact that these are short stories. I will be the first to admit that I buy the longer audiobooks because I like getting lost in a long story. But I buy short story collections on purpose. Often a story is long enough to last me in the car there-and-back. I get a nice sense of continuity and closure there.
The thing I like best about these anthologies, is that I get to sample a variety of writers and readers. Stana Katic, for example, was a fabulous surprise as a reader. I love her on "Castle" but as a reader she has terrific range doing the different characters. The only reader I did not love (and this surprised me) was Johnathan Frakes. Even though he was too slow when doing the "narrator" voice, I enjoyed his change in tone during dialogue.
I use this as an opportunity to revisit authors I have read before, Gabaldon (of course) as well as Landsdale, Butcher, Snodgrass, and Stirling are old favorites. It is also a chance to fine new writers to explore. I was particularly impressed by the three stories with older women as the protagonist and will read more by Lindholm, Kress, and Sanderson because of those offerings. I also found myself quite enjoying "Raisa Stepanova" by Carrie Vaughn. While other of the historic stories seemed to be more of a litany of events, I found myself immersed in the trials of they young fighter pilot. She was certainly dangerous to the enemy, and frequently put herself in danger, but she seemed like many of the young women flying today, passionate about her job, loyal to her family, and patriotic to a fault.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. I think I benefited from listening to it. As a print-book reader I would have been tempted to skip some of the stories that have turned out to be gems. As an audio-book reader there was no such temptation. This is the third of George R. R. Martin's anthologies I have gotten. I will get the next one in a heartbeat.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
This collection was very entertaining , from funny to thriller, from sadness to happiness.. Too much of mixed emotions here The following is a quick review for each book in this collection.. Its my longest review yet. :D
“Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie; Read by Stana Katic
This is the first book, it showed a woman's strength and her ability to lie and kill to survive the greed of men who are chasing her for the prize of coins. As it was the first book I didn't really understand whats going on, but slowly i understood that no introductions to characters and you get to know them and heir past while you are listening to the story. It was short, but it was good. 4 out of 5
“My Heart Is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott; Read by Jake Weber
Thrilling story about a father, a mother, and their little baby... One day someone steals the baby and the parents are worried sick about her.. The media started to attack the mother and the father doesn't know what to do.. The thrilling part in this story that you start to think that there is something wrong with the mother and you start asking yourself "Did she do something?"... I have really enjoyed it and its ending was perfect. 5 out of 5
“Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland; Read by Harriet Walter
In the year 1169, it talks about a dysfunctional royal family and how they treat each other.. Sad story about a little girl, named Nora, who has to face the truth in her young age that her parents (king and queen) are not perfect but also they lie, take, and threat each other.. Sadly she has to live with it and ignore... 3.5 out of 5
“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass; Read by Jonathan Frakes
This was a very interesting one , its based on space and humans are among many aliens... The woman in this story is a stripper, which a high official in the government fell in love with.. What she did then was unbelievable!! By the end of the book, I told myself "Be careful if you became a high government official" :D 4 out of 5
“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher; Read by Emily Rankin
I have never red Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, but after listening to this short story i immediately added the first book to my wish list to buy it soon and listen to this series. Am not going to talk much about this book as i don't know the series much, but i really liked it, and went through the book understanding everything very well. 5 out of 5!!!
“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn; Read by Inna Korobkina
This is about a female pilot in WW2 in the soviet union. It talks about her life in the war and how she and her other female pilots strived to become female fighter pilots in the soviet union.. She has a brother in the army as well and really cares about him. This story was simple and good, enjoyed listening to it. 3 out of 5.
“Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale; Read by Scott Brick
its about a teenager who befriends and old wrestler who started training him. The woman in this story is an old lover of the wrestler who left him for another wrestler named Jesus… and his dream is to get her back cause he can’t live without her. I have really enjoyed this story and I really felt bad for the wrestler... Its ending is a really good one.. 4 out of 5.
“Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm; Read by Lee Meriwether
Its about an old woman named Sarah who lives in her house and everyone else from her old friends had either died or in nursing homes. she battles her son as she doesn't want to leave her home to a nursing home, and tries to prove that she can manage everything by herself... This book is a sad one, I really felt bad for Sarah and its ending was sad with a touch of weird. 4 out of 5
“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block; Read by Jake Weber
A very thrilling story about a man... He had bad experience with his mother in the past and a woman tried to play with him in the present. This one was a bit disturbing, and its ending too.... Narration was really good as well.. There is 22 stories in this collection and this story was one of the ones which got stuck with me and didn't forget. 5 out of 5.
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson; Read by Claudia Black
It talks about a world where evil spirits live in the forest and people are scared of them. A dangerous woman named Silence who owns an inn is being threaten by a man to pay more or he will take her inn and spill her secret that she is the "White Fox" bounty hunter. She goes to the forest to complete a bounty, but she runs through trouble.
Even though it was a short story, still Brandon Sanderson created a new world with its own evil spirits and you can easily understand whats going on. Brandon Sanderson is truly a gifted author. 5 out of 5.
“A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman; Read by Harriet Walter
It was a book about a queen in the 12th century, she tried to protect her people and to do right by them. Her story is quite interesting.. It was an ok book, not my cup of tea.... but it was ok.. 3 out of 5.
“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman; Read by Sophie Turner
It was about a group of wizards who one of them played a prank on another wizard... I didn't like this one that much... And its a bit short to write a proper review for why i didn't like it. Regarding the Narration, I think the narrator was the wrong one for this book. And its ending was rubbish. 1 out of 5.
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress; Read by Janis Ian
Its in a world where 99% of women in this world can’t have children, thus the world fell apart.. its a post apocalyptic world were there are packs and farms, and everyone wants to collect and treasure fertile women to have children .. The main character is an old nurse who lived her life in such pack, and you get to see how life is like in this world. Quite an interesting story, not the usual zombie apocalypse or nuclear ones, its an apocalypse but in a different way. Really enjoyed it. 5 out of 5.
“City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland; Read by Scott Brick
This is about a dirty cup in New Orleans who falls for a stripper ...but there is amother man, who the cup is working for, who wants her too.. I liked this story, and have enjoyed its ending as you wouldn't expect it. 4 out of 5.
“Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon; Read by Allan Scott-Douglas
Its about two Scottish men who work as mercenaries ... They take a job to ascot a lady to her soon-to-be husband in paris.. But she has other plans.
Interesting book this one was... I have really liked the narrator as well as he did the accents perfectly. 4.5 out of 5.
“Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon; Read by Jenna Lamia
A team who are looking for the supernatural.. They go to a cursed town to look for gold, but they find something else.. The story was short, shorter than the rest , but still it was good. The woman in this story is a psychic who get connected with the woman who cursed the town.. The narrator was good, but not for this book, as the team were men and women, but she gave them teenagers' voices, I thought it was a kid team until i red it again were it clearly pointed out that it was an adult team. 4 out of 5
“Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling; Read by Stana Katic
Fantastic book set in a time where electricity is gone and everyone went back to live the old way. People live in communities and everyone have their own tasks to do to keep the community going.. The woman in this story is the leader of one of these communities... And her task in this book is to give judgement regarding a man's criminal actions toward the community, its hard but it has to be done... I liked this book, its realistic and you can feel that such world did exist and it could exist if electricity ran out. 5 out of 5
“Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes; Read by Claudia Black
This book was confusing , something about hunting and stuff like that... Just too confusing.... I really got so confused, couldn't understand anything 1 out of 5.
“Caregivers” by Pat Cadigan; Read by Janis Ian
Its about two middle aged women who their mom is in a home... The younger sister volunteers in the home to help and assist the residence ... But during that time the older sister started to notice that some odd things are happening in the home. I have enjoyed this book as its ending was satisfying and there were few funny jokes too.. 4 out of 5
“Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector; Read by Maggi-Meg Reed
A really good book… I have really enjoyed it.. Its about people called Aces, and Jokers.. They have supernatural powers… A superhero woman named bubbles (Ya!! Thats her name, and she kill with bubbles) is under attack from an unknown organisation who their goal is to control her by attacking her friends… although its a short story, still its a fantastic one… characters were good, plenty of back story and action…. I have really enjoyed listening to this book. 5 out of 5
“The Princess and the Queen” by George R. R. Martin; Read by Iain Glen
I think most of the readers who will buy and bought this book was for this part by George R. R. Martin.. If you are A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire series fan, you will get to know the history of the world you are reading/listening to, and how did the dragons die.. There were too many wars in this book and too many events.. and i think it would have been better if this book was a bit longer as i kept on jumping from war to war, and i got confused for a bit... But still it was amazing and its ending was good.. 5 out of 5.
53 of 57 people found this review helpful