STORY - I only got this book because it was on sale and the ratings were high. Even though I don't usually like westerns, what the heck, right? What a pleasant surprise! The characters are strong and likeable, and I became totally immersed in their lives and dreams. Not only must they survive from day to day in a tough land during tough times, but they must face the challenges of starting a huge cattle ranch deep in the wilderness of Texas. Needless to say, there's a lot of action. Normally I would be totally bored by Indian ambushes and shootouts with bad guys, but not ths time. It is definitely a book for guys, but it doesn't dwell on fighting, blood, descriptions of guns, etc., that is boring to women. It also has a little romance for us girls, too!
The story line is simple, easy to follow, and simply wonderful. The ending is satisfying enough that you could consider this a standalone story, but there is a fairly large question left hanging which will probably leave you wanting to continue to the next book.
NARRATOR - The narrator has multiple "western" voices which change for lots of different characters. His performance makes a great story even better.
OVERALL - I think everyone will like this book. (No sex or cursing, so it's probably even okay for older kids).
STORY (contemporary romance) - The story line of Falling Into You has three very different parts, with each having a different mood and feel. The first part is a sweet and sexually inquisitive romance between Nell and Kyle. (It will bring back memories of high school and your first love!) This part of the book ends with a horrible accident, and Nell holds Kyle's hand as he dies. It's heart-wrenching and made me cringe, and I was really glad when it was finished. At Kyle's funeral, Nell runs into his older brother Colton, a "bad boy" who lives in New York. (This is all in the publisher's summary - no spoilers here).
Fast-forward a few years, and the story changes to a much darker one. Nell blames herself for Kyle's death and is pretty screwed up about it. She runs into Colton again, and they start seeing each other. He's determined to help her heal emotionally, and he's also very attracted to her. We learn about his problems and his violent past, but we also see his creative and sensitive side. They share their guilt and emotions, but will it be enough to keep them together?
Then, in my opinion, the story changes a third time and turns very sexually explicit for a very long time. I'm not prudish or offended in any way, but this large part of the book is definitely X-rated. The story concludes well, and there's a nice performance of a song titled "Falling Into You" at the end.
PERFORMANCE - There are two narrators who alternate reading this book -- a young female for Nell and a male for Colton. Their overall performances are good, but the female's performance during the accident gave me goose bumps.
OVERALL - Pretty good book, but not great. It's touching and sweet, but there's also some difficult scenes. There's also lots of cursing and sex, which may be offensive to some listeners.
STORY (sci-fi) - CJ Cherryh is an amazing author. The world she has created, the atevi characters, the languages, the political situations...I don't know where she comes up with all this stuff! Just think, there is one human (Bren Cameron) who is charged with translating and maintaining the peace between a human colony and the native atevi, who are large human-like creatures with black skin (see cover art). There are all kinds of differences and extremely tense situations which are great listening. The only complaint I have is that her stories are pretty complex with all the different players and their different motives. There are lots of strange names to keep straight. Several times I wanted to back up and rehear stuff but I was driving and couldn't. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it were simpler or maybe if I were just smarter!
Things get critical in the end and there's quite a bit of action. The current crises are over by the end of the book so it's not a cliffhanger, but there's so much to come. I'm anxious for the space program to build the atevi's ship and get them into space. It looks as if a new, evil race may be watching...
PERFORMANCE - Mr. May has a very pleasant voice. He does a good job differentiating voices for the different main characters and an incredible job pronouncing all the strange names and places in this book.
OVERALL (actual rating 3.5) - This is a great story, but it's not an easy listen. There is only a little bit of sex and no bad language, but this is definitely not for dummies or young listeneres. It is sci-fi in that it deals with human/alien relations, but the problems are all political in nature. If you're looking for little green men with magical powers and cool weapons, you will be disappointed. Each book seems to provide a pretty good recap to get new listeners up to speed, but I would definitely listen to this series from the beginning in order.
STORY (YA romance/action) - Requiem is Book 3 in the Delirium "trilogy." It is an engaging story of young love in a dystopian society where medical procedures are required to be performed at age 18 to strip everyone of all emotion. Emotion is evil and causes people to go crazy. The main characters are a small band of resistors who have left Portland and are living in "the wilds." The book is beautifully written and full of young emotion and lots of action. The only problem is, as an adult, I was interested in this series enough for three books as originally intended. IMHO the series is starting to drag a bit in order to stretch to four books (or even more???). I will probably listen to Book 4 when it comes out, but only if the series ends there.
PERFORMANCE - Sarah Drew has a nice youthful-sounding voice, which is perfect for this series. She does a good job as the story moves along and then - BANG - she does an emotional scene with Alex and Laina which is incredible! Overall, though, I'll give her a 4.
OVERALL - (Precise rating 3.5) This series needs to be listened to in order, and you will need to hear all of them. All three books end in cliffhangers, though this one isn't as tall a cliff as the first two. This is a good book for teengers, as there is no sex, but the F-word does come up a few times. Because of the romance, I would recommend this for teenage girls and women who enjoy well-written YA (like me), though I see several men who have given it rave reviews.
STORY - Audible has categorized this as a mystery/thriller/modern detective. I would call it historical fiction, though there are mystery and detective components. The main characters are richly developed, and each tells his own story. There is Josef, who is an old man haunted by the crimes he commited against Jews during the Holocaust. Sage is a young woman who works as a baker at night so she can hide her disfigured face from the world. Leo is a government attorney who finds and prosecutes war criminals. Minke, Sage's grandmother, was a prisoner at Auschwitz and is "The Storyteller." Minke writes a story about Anya and two vampire brothers, which captivates those who hear it.
The book jumps between these five stories, sometimes for hours at a time and sometimes just for minutes. They are easy to keep straight because they are each read by a different narrator. Minke's story about her life at Auschwitz is very long and details numerous atrocities, but it didn't bother me to listen to it. Josef seeks forgiveness for his crimes and surprisingly asks Sage to kill him, which causes Sage to meet Leo and investigate who Josef really was and what crimes he might have committed.
The book is deep and emotional, but I found it enjoyable and not gut-wrenching. Many of the characters are emotionally damaged. Some heal and some do not. The ending is very good, and I must say it came as a complete surprise to me.
PERFORMANCE - How can you go wrong with five different narrators? They all did great jobs.
OVERALL - I highly recommend this book to anyone, as long as you don't mind probing around in this dark period of our history.
STORY (action sci-fi) - Steelheart is set sometime in the future. The main character is David, an 18-year-old who saw his father killed by Steelheart (an "Epic" with super powers) when he was only 10. He joins up with the "Reckoners" to fight for the good of humanity and, of course, to avenge his father's death. The beginning of the story is unusual and I thought it had the potential to be a very special book, but it soon turned into just another battle between good and evil. There are a few interesting character/plot twists that keep this story more interesting than many, but I eventually got bored with all the fighting and action scenes.
The Epics each possess different super-powers so the Reckoners must create innovative strategies to defeat them, and they utilize some pretty cool gadgets. There is some attempt at humor (which fell flat, in my opinion) and a bit of romance.
PERFORMANCE - Good job, but nothing remarkable.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 3.5) The story ends well and can stand alone, though I see it's Book 1 of a series. I don't plan to read the second book when it comes out, but I will definitely go see a movie if one is made. There is no sex or cursing, so I'd recommended for all listeners. I've rated it pretty low due to the fact I get bored with action and fighting pretty quickly. If you're an adrenaline addict, you would probably rate this book a 5.
STORY (sci-fi) - This is a great "teaser" to see if you think you might like to purchase the whole book (which I think won an award like Book of the Year??) The story is set in New Chicago sometime in the future, and there are dudes with super-powers who are controlling humanity. The main character is a teenager who saw his father killed by one of them and is determined to avenge his death by trying to join the only group who seems to be fighting back. Great stuff!
PERFORMANCE - Good job, nothing special.
OVERALL - Can't go wrong by trying this short sampler. It's only about 1 1/2 hours and it's free. I'd recommend this for probably all listeners, at least so far as I've heard.
STORY (historical) - First of all, I totally disagree with the categorization of this book as "Teens Ages 11-13" The main characters in the story are teens, but there are mature themes which make it more appropriate for adults. The main character, "Jacky," is a young orphan girl who must survive on the streets of London until a dear friend is killed, she takes his clothing and sets off in search of a better life disguised as a boy. Her life as a street urchin is pretty dark and depressing. Jacky gets a job as a ship's mate aboard a seagoing vessel, which is where the adventures begin, but there are still some scenes with sexual undertones which I wouldn't consider appropriate for 11-year-olds.
I also think the title is a bit misleading. Jacky gets the nickname "Bloody Jack" because she happens to kill an unworthy individual in self-defense and another in a battle with pirates, but the story is actually a touching coming-of-age story that is mixed with lots of fun and adventure. It's a light, easy listen once Jacky becomes a ship's "boy." The ending is good, but definitely leaves the door open for the rest of the series.
PERFORMANCE - Amazing! Katherine Kellgren is one of my favorite narrators. I was undecided about this series until I noticed she was the narrator. She gives every character a different voice and accent and they're all wonderful. There's even a toothless pirate, and you can literally "see" him when you hear her portrayal. (She also reads the Her Royal Spyness series.) You must hear her to believe how good she is.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 4.5 stars) This is Book 1 of the series, and you should listen to them in order. As I mentioned above, I would recommend this for high school age and above. Guys and gals would probably both enjoy the adventures of Jacky and her crew.
STORY (suspense) - If you read the summary of the story, you can see where it might be quite good...but it's just okay. There's just too many characters, too many time lines, too many subplots. ENOUGH! It's fairly long (15:44) and there's a lot to think about and keep straight. For the first 11 or 12 hours I was entertained, but then it just seemed to drag on and I stopped caring. I will give the author an A for imagination, but that's about all this book has going for it.
PERFORMANCE - Meh, he does okay. He doesn't do a very good job distinguishing characters, but it's not too much of a problem. Sometimes he drops his voice at the end of the line he's reading like the sentence is over, then he realizes there's more and tacks the rest on halfheartedly. All in all, the performance neither adds nor detracts from the book.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 2.5) No sex, minimal cursing. This is not an easy listen and you will have to pay close attention. The story isn't finished by the end of the book, so you will need to hear Book 2 to see how it ends. Personally, I don't care.
STORY (personal memoir) - This is the story of a lonesome male songwriter who admits he has a miserable existence, highlighted by failed relationships and an addiction to alcohol and drugs. He begins an online relationship with a girl which lasts about a month. They share their deepest secrets and fantasies, and she even sends him nude photographs. They are both "damaged" individuals and seem bonded by their problems. He becomes totally obsessed with her and dreams of a real future together...until he meets her in person. I don't want to reveal too much in case you decide to listen to it, but I will say he is surprised by who she is and feels duped by her deception. Their relationship really goes downhill from that point. The whole story is about screwed-up people in a screwed-up relationship. Like I said, it's different. The ending is okay.
PERFORMANCE - The author reads his own work and does an okay job. He has a very low voice which might be almost sexy if he were reading different material.
OVERALL - It's not bad, but it's not good either. It's an easy listen with lots of sexual language, and it's pretty dark. This is a free download so it's worth the "money," but I don't know if it's worth the time (1:17).
STORY (military sci-fi) - Field of Dishonor is Book 4 in the series. Unfortunately, it lacks the interplanetary battle scenes we have come to expect, but there's no lack of excitement. Pavel Young's hatred of Honor escalates personally and politically until she is forced into a very dangerous lose-lose situation. This is the major story line of the book, and it's very, very good.
There is more character development than in the first three books. It slows the pace a bit, but it's enjoyable. Honor faces great sadness and is severely tested, but she remains true to who she is. She becomes more "real" and I like her more with each book.
The story finishes at a nice "pausing point," but it's definitely not an end. A preview of the next book follows.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is female, has a pleasant voice and does a good job.
OVERALL - You should listen to this series in order. There's some minor violence, a small amount of very mild sex and a sprinkling of cursing. The politics are fairly complicated so it's not an easy listen. Probably should be over about age 18 to understand and enjoy.
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