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Archive for the ‘Bronson Pinchot’ Category

[LISTENED TO: Summer 2019] Circus Mirandus

I checked out this book exclusively because Bronson Pinchot was reading it.  I will listen to just about anything that he reads.  So the fact that this story sounded even vaguely interesting (and age appropriate–Pinchot does tend to read a lot more adult books) meant I grabbed it right away.

This book is about Micah, a young orphan who is living with his sickly grandfather.  Taking care of Grandpa Ephraim is Ephraim’s sister Gertrudus.  Aunt Gertrudus is the meanest, most-horrible person ever.   She makes Micah drink bitter black tea, she makes him do all of the work in the house and she refuses to let him see his grandpa.

Micah loves his grandpa and he loves the stories that his grandpa tells.  It’s these stories that Gertrudus is trying to keep Micah from.

As the book opens we see the letter that Ephraim has sent to Circus Mirandus: (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: December 2015] Heck

heckI read this book several years ago.  I remember enjoying it but not loving it.  But when we were looking for an audio book and I saw that this was narrated by Bronson Pinchot, I knew we had to listen to it.  And the kids liked it a lot (although Tabby didn’t love the ending, which is sad, but is more of a set up for volume 2).

The premise of the book is that Heck is where you go when you die if you’re under 18.  They’re not quite sure where you’re going to wind up, so you have to go through Heck, which is basically school, until they can sort out which layer of Hell you’re going to wind up in.  Needless to say Heck is full of bad kids (and bad demons).

Our two bad kids are Milton and Marlo Fauster.  Marlo is a troublemaker from way back.  She is a petty thief and is always up to no good.  Milton is a good kid.  He never did anything bad in his life, and he always gets abuse from Marlo.  As the book opens, Milton and Marlo are sprinting down the corridor of a mall where Marlo has just stolen something. She is planning on wreaking havoc with Grizzly Mall’s centerpiece: The State’s Second-Largest Bear-Themed Marshmallow Statue (that cracked me up).

The kids run to the center of the mall where they are cornered by security.  Marlo is trying to think of an escape plan when Milton notices his classmate Damian.  Damian torments Milton every chance he can get.  And now, he is standing at the top of the marshmallow bear with matches.  Milton also notices a fuse sticking out of the bear.

One explosion later, the kids find themselves no longer attached to their bodies, as they are rapidly sliding down to Heck.  Marlo deserves to be there, she’s a bad egg.  But what about Milton?  It turns out that Marlo had slipped an item into Milton’s backpack, and therefore he technically stole something as well.  A technicality but true nonetheless.

The rest of the book shows the kids in their gender-segregated classes.  The boys learn physical education from Blackbeard the pirate and ethics from Richard Nixon (the Nixon bits were hilarious, and yet I can’t imagine many kids getting the jokes).  The girls, meanwhile, learn home ec from Lizzy Borden (do kids know who that is?) and singing from an angel who is on a teacher exchange program. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2014] The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw

outlawThis audio book was ten hours long.  We listened to it on a long car trip (from New Jersey to Canada).

I wasn’t quite sure how the title of this book would make sense since the heroes are heroes after all.  But we quickly learn that all of the good guys have been accused of killing Briar Rose (they didn’t even know she was dead!).  And her father has put a bounty on all of our heroes: Prince Frederic, Prince Gustav, Prince Liam, and Prince Duncan and Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Princess Lila.

Of course, it shouldn’t take anyone long to determine that there has been a nasty plot afoot and that someone from their past has some pretty evil plans to attend to.

However, the way the story is written–with each character getting his or her hilarious chapter–it does take a little time before the truth comes out.  But it takes only a few pages before the scary news comes out–Rundark, Warlord of Dar is back, and he is angry.  Well, he was always angry, but I suspect he’s even more angry. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: June 2014] The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

heros1Holy cow, did I love this audio book!

I was looking for an audio book that the kids would enjoy on a long car ride.  The title sounded terrific and when I saw that it was read by Bronson Pinchot, I didn’t wait another second to download it.  And yes, Pinchot’s reading was stellar and amazing, but in addition, the story was hilarious and fantastic.

And I’ll get out of the way that the book is completely kid-friendly.  There’s nothing objectionable (the harshest word is crud).  Some of the violence is cartoony (and Pinchot makes it pretty visceral) but it doesn’t last long.  My nine-year old and six-year-old were just as hooked as the adults.

This book aims to set the record straight about Prince Charming.  Prince Charming is of course in every fairy tale, but you did know that they are not the same Prince Charming, right?   Those lousy bards who created the songs about the female leads certainly got the Princesses names correct, but they never bothered to get the Princes’ names into the songs.  (Charming is an adjective, not a name).  So, meet Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan and Prince Gustav. They’re the Prince Charmings (actually it is Princes Charming–the book is very much a stickler for proper grammar), who saved–Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively.  And they are out to make names for themselves or at least make their names known.

Each one of them starts as an outcast for a different reason.  The only thing I found confusing about this story was trying to keep the kingdom names straight.   So I’m trying to outline them here. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: October 2013] Warbound

warboundI loved Book I and Book II of The Grimnoir Chronicles immensely. The first was an amazing introduction to this new world and the second upped the scale and intensity to an amazing level (nearly destroying Washington D.C.).

And since the beginning of Book II picked up shortly after the events of Book II, it seemed pretty safe to assume that we would be heading into the giant conflict that was predicted at the end of Book II–fighting the creature that was coming to kill The Power.  For real context, read the other two reviews first (I mean, really), but for simple context, a sizable minority of the population has the gift of Magic.  This gift comes from The Power and it allows people to do all kinds of things–bend gravity, transport from one place to another, talk through animals, fade into walls, etc.

It has only been recently, through the work of our heroes, that people understood just how people got the power.  It came from The Power, a creature that gave humans magic and then fed off of them when they died.  It was a symbiotic relationship.  But of course people who did not have Power hated those with Power.  Even though the people with Power often use their power for good, there were of course people who didn’t.  Consequently all people with The Power were scapegoated.  This is all laid on a backdrop of alternate reality 1930s America, where the Nipponese are ascending and offer a very credible threat–especially since their Magicals are organized and brutal. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: July 27, 2013] Spellboundspellbound

I enjoyed Book I of The Grimnoir Chronicles immensely.  I wasn’t really sure what Correia could do to top it.  There’s the inevitable dread for sequels that everything has to be bigger bigger bigger with the cost to the heart of the story.  (That’s more true in movies, but books can suffer as well).

And indeed, Correia does go bigger, but he loses nothing.  Indeed, the higher stakes make this story all the more exciting without sacrificing the characters in any way.

As the story opens, we learn that it is a few months after the events of Book I.  The Grimnoir are dispersed somewhat, with things falling into a somewhat logical place.  Francis Stuyvesant is the head of United Blimp.  Faye and Francis are more or less dating and Heinrich is more or less his bodyguard. The other team members are up to assorted states of resting and recuperating.  And Jake Sullivan is lying low.

But no matter how low he thinks he is lying, he’s still very big.  And he is soon found by a woman named Hammer.  Of course, at first the story maintains the trappings of noir, with Hammer being a (beautiful) woman in distress.  Surprisingly, she is in distress at the library and she asks Jake for help (he is there studying magic and, well, lying low).  He tells her to ask the librarian.  But later when he is leaving, he sees her being robbed by some thugs.  He goes to rescue her (and easy job for a big guy like him), and Hammer uses her power to determine that he is indeed Heavy Jake Sullivan.  And he can still do what he can do.

Hammer wrangles him into a government facility where he accepts a phone call from the dead Chairman.  This whole section is lovingly described and far too cool to try to summarize.  So let’s just say that Alexander Graham Bell created a phone that could talk to the dead–but only if they wanted to talk to us.  The Chairman found the phone and, of all people, he wanted to speak to Jake.  (I’m skipping so much stuff here that it hurts me, but I don’t want to spoil the story or the humor). (more…)

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baen logotransSmallSOUNDTRACK: TWO INCH ASTRONAUT-”Little Short Guy” (2013).

two-inch-astronaut-cover-de5df21ccbfbcb75c6d6c83315becf109f32f74e-s1Two Inch Astronaut made it into two segments of NPR’s Music section this week.  Yesterday was Lars’ pick, today is Robin Hilton’s.

This song has a very funny title which may have something to do with the lyrics (which I don’t really understand) or it may be because the song is less than 90 seconds long.

It begins with some slow chugging chords (and something about holding you hair back). Twenty seconds in, the song bursts forth with louder guitars and noisier vocals. Twenty seconds later, the third part of the song mellows things out some, with quieter vocals and chiming guitars.  But by the one minute mark the loudness is back.  And then the song ends.

Talk about packing a lot into a short song.  I don’t think it would sell anyone on the band, but I’ll bet it sounds great in the midst of the album.

[READ: June 27, 2013] “The Grimnoir Chronicles: Detroit Christmas”

This short story is a brief prequel to the content of Hard Magic.  In Hard Magic Sullivan refers to the twins that he captured and wonders if they count as one capture or two.  Well, here’s the story of that capture.

It has all of the features that I grew to love in the novel (I even read it as close to Bronson Pinchot’s voice as I could).  And while the story was satisfying, it didn’t have any of the supporting cast who really flesh out the story.  True, this story is exclusively about Sullivan so that point is moot.  But it’s clear that while Sullivan is the star of the story he’s not really the heart.

The story is set in Detroit, Christmas Day 1931.  And we see Sullivan in the middle of a huge battle with the Maplethorpe Brothers and their gang.  There’s Snowball, the man who can control the temperature (and get ice to shoot from his fingers.  And there’s Johnny Bones, the ringleader, so-called for his ability to stretch and de-form his bones into any shape–or sharpness–he wants.

The story flashes back to two days earlier, when a lady walked into his office.  Emily Fordyce is looking for her husband, Arthur.  He was a powerful healer and is believed to be murdered.  But she thinks that he was kidnapped, perhaps by a gang who needs a healer.  The pay she offered Sullivan was very, very good,so he took the case. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: June 7, 2013] Hard Magichardmagic

My sister-in-law Karen raved about this book and then gave it to me for Christmas.  And holy cow.  I.  LOVED.  IT.

And before I even get into the story I have to say that a major reason why I loved it is because of the reader–Bronson Pinchot.  Yes, Balki from Perfect Strangers.  Yes, that goofy “foreigner” from the show has an utterly mesmerizing speaking voice.  It is amazingly deep–when he first started speaking the menacing drawl of Jake Sullivan, I was blown away.  And then he pulled out a couple dozen more characters, women and men–German, Japanese, Okies, military men, New Yorkers.  He brought this story to absolutely real life.

I have made a point of looking for anything else that he reads (although I see that he mostly reads books about war (which is not my thing))–but I see a Flannery O’Connor in there and–YES–he reads book two of the Grimnoir series (called Spellbound) and it’s already out!

Okay enough about Pinchot.  No, not enough.  He was stellar!

Okay, now enough.  What’s the story about?  Well, the best thing is that the story itself is also amazing.  It is set in the 1930s, in an alternate reality Untied States.  And in this reality, random people have been gifted with magic.  And there’s all kinds of magic–fades (people who can walk through walls); torches (people who can make and stop fires), mouths (people who can put thoughts in your head); brutes (people who are crazy strong and who can actually bend gravity to their will) and movers (people who can jump from place to place).  There’s also healers and cursers and cogs–really smart people–and other with more mysterious powers.

Each chapter opens with a quote from a real (in our world) person talking about how the magic or the people with magic–the Actives–impacted society.  So Einstein was a cog, and military leaders used brutes to fight in wars, etc. (more…)

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