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  • The Bottle Imp and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Narrated By Alexander Spencer

    Robert Louis Stevenson brings his mastery of story-telling and suspense to these intriguing tales of island mystery. In 1888, a year after leaving England, Stevenson and his wife left San Francisco and sailed to the South Pacific. The beauty, mystery, and lore of the islands captivated the great author, inspiring him to write several wonderful short stories. "The Bottle Imp," the main story in this outstanding collection, is a suspenseful folktale, introducing us to various ghosts, demons, and other frightening creatures. Also included are 3 more examples of Stevenson's masterful but too often overlooked short fiction.

    Stef says: "Great stories, not so great sound"
    "Great stories, not so great sound"

    I read the stories when I was a kid, and they are just as good as I remembered them. The reader is good too. Unfortunately the best available sound quality is really scratchy and staticky, which is why I'm giving the book only 3 stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Dangerous Mourning: A William Monk Novel #2

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Anne Perry
    • Narrated By Davina Porter

    When the beautiful daughter of Sir Basil Moidore is stabbed to death in her bed, Inspector Monk and Nurse Latterly uncover a tale of shame and scandal that threatens to destroy a powerful London dynasty.

    gwennieg says: "A Dangerous Mourning"
    "Solid on many levels"

    Really good in so many ways. Well written; language and dialogue ring true; the main characters are very well developed and the myriad of secondary characters far more carefully developed than in many books. Strongly feminist and class-conscious (in fact the only objection I have to it is that the protagonists' views and behavior are a little unrealistically modern on those subjects...but that's fine if you know what to expect). Although the series is named William Monk, the female protagonist, Hester Latterly, does most of the detecting in this book. Davina Porter does a great job narrating.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Halfway to the Grave: Night Huntress, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Jeaniene Frost
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership. In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner…are there actually good vampires?

    Stephenie says: "Great series. Worth every credit."
    "I like Bones's accent. Also, good story."

    This is a fun paranormal romance series. I like the characters a lot. They're a little stereotyped in this book (but in ways that work for me) but they are better fleshed out in later books.

    I'm writing this review to add a dissenting voice to the complaints about Gilbert's voice for Bones. I actually find his voice very sexy and it's one of the main reasons I bought book 2 of the series after finishing book 1.

    For calibration purposes, I've lived in the US all my life and don't know enough about non-American accents to be jarred by bad ones. Bones's accent sounds semi-English and semi-Australian to me, which fits with his background.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Amir D. Aczel
    • Narrated By Byron Wagner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest, and by far the most powerful, machine ever built. A project of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, its audacious purpose is to re-create, in a 16.5-mile-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss countryside, the immensely hot and dense conditions that existed some 13.7 billion years ago within the first trillionth of a second after the fiery birth of our universe.

    Matthew says: "Particle Physics and mini Blackholes"
    "Fascinating, at times goes too fast to follow"

    This information in this book includes an overview of modern physics, the history of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider, and specifics of some of the physics problems being studied at CERN. It reads like a compilation of essays written for different publications, so there is some repetition. Some essays are harder to follow and more information-dense than others. All of them are well written.

    I'm a lay person, and this is the first book I've read on some of the concepts of modern physics. I learned a lot. But the narrator, Byron Wagner, read too fast for me to follow the more technical chapters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Neil deGrasse Tyson has a talent for guiding readers through the mysteries of outer space with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. This collection of his essays from Natural History magazine explores a myriad of cosmic topics. Tyson introduces us to the physics of black holes by explaining what would happen to our bodies if we fell into one; he also examines the needless friction between science and religion, and notes Earth's status as "an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos".

    Lind says: "Well written and well read"
    "Enjoyable material and narration, repetitious"

    Collection of essays from Tyson's column in Natural History magazine, about physics, astronomy, and the history of science. There's a lot of repetition among the essays. The essays vary in the level of knowledge needed to follow them, but most are fairly basic. Toward the end of the book Tyson wanders off into commentary about religion, culture, and politics. I was quite amused by his ranting about the scientific inaccuracies of movies, but I found his comments on religion vs. science sadly simplistic, even though I share many of his opinions on the subject.

    I would have given this book three stars for the material alone, but I added a star because Dion Graham's narration added tremendously to my enjoyment of the material. It's really impressive to hear a science book being narrated with a wide range of emotion. I know a number of reviewers didn't like the narration, but learning about science is exciting for me, and I like it when the narration complements that.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Shadow of the Wind

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis

    Barcelona, 1945: Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his 11th birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.

    Katherine says: "Great With One Exception"
    "Engaging story, annoying music"

    The story was engaging and the narrator did a good job, although he fell into certain modern American speech patterns more often than I would have preferred, given that it is a historical novel set in Barcelona.

    Piano music appears behind key scenes. The music itself is lovely (and apparently composed by the author of the book himself -- quite a multi-talented person, I guess). But I find it very unpleasant to try to listen to music and words at the same time, so I really didn't like the musical interludes and wished they'd been left out of the audiobook. Your mileage may vary.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Diamond Age

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Jennifer Wiltsie

    Neal Stephenson, "the hottest science fiction writer in America", takes science fiction to dazzling new levels. The Diamond Age is a stunning tale; set in 21st-century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens what a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life, and the entire future of humanity, is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.

    Tango says: "The rock could use a bit more polishing"
    "Superb narration of a fun book"

    I'm very fussy about narrators in general and female narrators in particular. Jennifer Wiltsie is one of the best narrators I've come across. This is a really challenging book to narrate, with dozens of different characters of all ages and nationalities (oh, and some of them are machines). She does a superb job.

    The book is a lot of fun, very smart, covering a wide range of topics in a futuristic setting.

    My one complaint about the book is that it introduces lots of characters only to drop them - you never find out what happened with them after a certain point.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Uncommon Carriers

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By John McPhee
    • Narrated By John McPhee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    From Pulitzer Prize-winner John McPhee, author of The Founding Fish, comes the fascinating story of an often overlooked, yet vitally important part of America. This first-hand account of the transportation sector features evocative portraits of the men and women who deliver our consumer and industrial goods.

    Darwin8u says: "A Geologist's Curiosity/Patience and a Poet's Pen"
    "There's a lot of stuff being shipped around"

    Narrated by the author. His narration is slow and somewhat quirky, but I came to like it.

    My favorite chapters were:
    "A Fleet of One" and "A Fleet of One - II" about a guy who owns a chemical tanker.
    "Tight-Assed River" about small boats that push strings of barges ("longer than the Titanic") up and down the Illinois River
    "Out in the Sort" about the travels of live lobsters sold by a Nova Scotia company, Clearwater Seafoods (which may make you not want to eat lobster at Asian buffets any more) and the sorting facility at the UPS Worldport facility in Louisville, KY
    "Coal Train" about 19,000 ton coal-laden trains more than a mile long and the Union Pacific engineers, conductors, and dispatchers who get them where they're going (the dispatchers sometimes quit the job and go into air traffic controlling, because it is easier).

    There are also chapters about a ship-handling course that uses scale models, and a canoe trip; those are good too but they didn't fascinate me.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • One Voice Chronological: The Consummate Holmes Canon, Collection 3

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By David Ian Davies

    Seven more cases solved by Sherlock Holmes, including "Silver Blaze", "The Yellow Face", "The Stockbroker's Clerk", "The 'Gloria Scott'", "The Musgrave Ritual", "The Reigate Puzzle", and "The Crooked Man".

    Stef says: "Serviceable Holmes collection"
    "Serviceable Holmes collection"

    This review is of the whole Consummate Holmes Canon collection.

    I wanted the whole collection of stories in chronological order on audio and this is the only collection I found with a narrator I could stand. (I don't like Covell.) I'm not pleased that the volumes don't correspond to the published collections (e.g., Vol 3 has stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes), but at least the stories are in order.

    If you don't mind some recording-quality oddities, it's a serviceable narration. Davies does a good job with multiple character voices.

    There are some quirks to the recording.

    The rhythm of the narration is oddly choppy, often without sufficient natural pauses. (I think this version was produced from another version with sound effects - the last story of volume 9 has the sound effects. Chopping out the sound effects could have chopped out the speech pauses.)

    In some cases female-range voices are produced by speeding up the narration, but this was done inconsistently, so there are occasional sections where a female voice sounds like something out of Alvin & The Chipmunks.

    One can hear modern traffic noises in the background occasionally.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Scanner Darkly

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Paul Giamatti
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D, which Arctor takes in massive doses, gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.

    Lew says: "Brillant Novel, Read to Perfection!"

    I can't say enough good things about "A Scanner Darkly" or about Giamatti's narration. Note that this story is pretty hard going. If you want a less sad and heavy introduction to Dick, try the "Minority Report" short story collection.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Aegypt

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By John Crowley
    • Narrated By John Crowley

    Is there more than one history of the world? This is the question Pierce Moffett is seeking to answer when, jilted and newly jobless, he gets off a bus by chance in the Faraway Hills and steps unawares into a story that has been awaiting him there. His search will bring him into contact with Rosie Rasmussen, another seeker marked by loss. And it will lead them both on a path toward the longed-for country of our oldest dreams and most unanswerable desires, toward a magnificent discovery.

    Stef says: "slow, meandering, and beautiful"
    "slow, meandering, and beautiful"

    Crowley develops his stories slowly with lots of detail and writes beautifully. His writing and ideas are meant to be savored and pondered. If you like the idea of listening to a 15 hour and 29 minute narrative poem, with another poem inside it, then you might well like this book.

    Crowley narrates the book himself, in a flat middle-American voice, with a quirky, slightly self-conscious manner. The narration worked for me. I found his voice easy to listen to, and his reading gave me more insight into what his artistic intentions are. But the narration isn't going to please everybody.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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