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The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

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The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
Narrator: Gillian Burke
Published by Orbit on May 17, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fiction
Length: 16 hrs 36 mins
Format: Audiobook
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My name is Hope Arden, and you won't know who I am. But we've met before - a thousand times.

It started when I was sixteen years old. A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A friend who looks at me and sees a stranger. No matter what I do, the words I say, the crimes I commit, you will never remember who I am.

That makes my life difficult. It also makes me dangerous.

I discovered Claire North earlier this year with her Gameshouse trilogy and loved her style, so I had to pick up The Sudden Appearance of Hope. I was not disappointed. I like how North writes, her ways of describing things, of conveying her characters’ thoughts. She takes an idea, bases her story around it, and makes them amazing.

Hope can’t be remembered – that’s the idea in this one, the bit that the rest of the story revolves around. You could meet her, have dinner with her, and once she’s left your sight, your hearing for a minute or two, you forget and your mind fills in that blank with whatever’s most reasonable – you dined alone. Hope is many things – chief among them a thief. An interesting point – since she can’t have relationships, she isn’t a lover, a friend, an employee, she is free (cursed?) to define herself. Her ethnic backyard, dark skin and hair, have helped form her worldview, but North doesn’t let her become a stereotype. Since she isn’t bound by other people’s expectations, she has her own code, her own disciplines that allow her to live a pretty comfortable life. She’s a thief, but when we meet her, she’s a high-end jewel thief. She works on her own, with a bit of help from people on the darknet – her digital footprint isn’t forgotten.

Her latest score brings her into contact with Perfection, an app designed to make people “perfect,” and the people who own/designed it. Perfection is fascinating and disturbing, a look at how marketing and self-image can be/have been affected by the technology that has become an intrinsic part of most of our lives. (Where’s your phone right now?) And, even worse, the potentials when things are taken a stop or two further. I feel like with Perfection and some of the consequences, we just barely cross over into the land of sci-fi, the kind of sci-fi that could easily enough happen in the very near future.

The book is a bit slow in the middle, but I enjoyed the side trips into literature and history and all the knowledge Hope has acquired over time. I like the words and the spaces and her reflections. She really only has herself to talk to – yes, she can have conversations with people, but unless it’s recorded, they’ll forget. The story is told in the first person and Burke does an excellent job with the narration. She gets across Hope’s fears and triumphs and anxieties. Burke did a great job with the pauses and phrasing, with varying the speed depending on the situation.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is like two stories that weave in and out of each other. In one we have hope and her daily life, her interactions, her musings, her near brushes with the law. The other is a suspenseful thriller involving Perfection and a woman who is bound and determined to destroy it with Hope’s help, whether given willingly or not.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

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The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan
Narrator: Christian Rodska
Series: Powder Mage Trilogy #3
Published by Orbit on February 10, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Flintlock Fantasy
Length: 19 hrs 25 mins
Format: Audiobook
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IN A RICH, DISTINCTIVE WORLD THAT MIXES MAGIC WITH TECHNOLOGY, WHO COULD STAND AGAINST MAGES THAT CONTROL GUNPOWDER AND BULLETS?

The capital has fallen...
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided...
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one...
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed...

I’ve really enjoyed this trilogy and the finale, The Autumn Republic, was good, but I was hoping for great. It would not stand-alone well, but it does wrap up a lot of the points the first two were leading toward. We see an end to the war and a new government for Adro. I love the world, the magic, the politics, and for some reason military fantasies tend to draw me in. I think it has something to do with all the passions, loyalties, endurance, planning – and treachery. The characters are awesome and the multiple points of view and various subplots give them each a chance to shine.

With so many characters and changes in viewpoint, the narrator of the audio has a tough job, but Rodska does well. He differentiates each character, and while the women are maybe not as well performed as the men, it’s a fairly male-centered story anyway. To me, he’s the voice of Tamas. There is one voice in however, Bo’s, that always sound off to me, too old for the man, but that’s a minor quibble. The story kept my attention throughout.

A lot of the story works out along more or less predictable lines – you have the general idea of what will happen if not the specifics, although there were a couple of curveballs I didn’t see coming. And of course I cried at the end – but there was a good reason. I probably would have seen it coming, but I always hope for happy endings all around. And most of them do get one, in some form or another.

This is the first series in a long while that I feel like I should pick up for Amber and David to read. I think they’d both like it. It’s high fantasy, but not the standard quest with the elves. It’s got a bit of a love story, but it is way overshadowed by the action. Gods and men, elements and gunpowder – it’s just a great trilogy, but definitely start at the beginning.

I read somewhere that the McClellan’s next trilogy will be in the same world ten years later. I hope that’s true!

About Brian McClellan

Brian McClellan is an American writer of epic fantasy. He is best known for The Powder Mage trilogy. Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

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