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Mark

Berlin, MA, United States

ratings
76
REVIEWS
41
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
9

  • Planetfall

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Emma Newman
    • Narrated By Emma Newman
    Overall
    (350)
    Performance
    (323)
    Story
    (323)

    More than 20 years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided alone. Ren has worked hard as the colony's 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment - and harboring a devastating secret.

    Townsend says: "You want different? Here it is!"
    "Great World-Building, Great Characters, Whip-sawed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm afraid the ending of this novel caught me so far off-guard, I had (and still have) trouble connecting it with the rest of the story. It left way too many loose ends for my taste.

    This all could have been "fixed" with an epilog; I do not disagree with where Newman took the plot at the last minute. Indeed many aspects of it were foreshadowed. But after spending hours getting to know and care about several brilliantly rounded characters, they and I were left in the lurch.

    This is the best I can do without spoilers. There was enough in this book to adore that I'll be looking for more from Newman.

    As she also narrated her own writing, I should say that she skillfully gave distinct voices to her characters, and carried us through the protagonist's head-space very well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Six Wakes

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Mur Lafferty
    • Narrated By Mur Lafferty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (332)
    Performance
    (303)
    Story
    (302)

    It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. At least Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died. Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn't the only one to die recently....

    Blaise Freeman says: "excellent story and characters"
    "This Was Fun!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By the numbers, this starts out as a closed-room mystery, where the "closed room" is a space-ship with six passengers. But because this is real science fiction, and not just a detective story in a science fiction setting, almost nothing about the closed-room mystery trope plays out as expected.

    All of the surprises and twists are consistent with everything you'd been told up to that point. Lafferty does an excellent job of playing off expectations.

    I don't know whether Lafferty would necessarily be a good narrator for others' works, but she obviously knows the mindsets of her own characters very well, and expresses them in distinguishable fashions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jenny Lawson
    • Narrated By Jenny Lawson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8779)
    Performance
    (8096)
    Story
    (8072)

    Audie Award, Humor, 2016. In Furiously Happy, number-one New York Times best-selling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

    Shawna says: "Small doses."
    "Laughing Out Loud at Crying Inside"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mental illness is nothing to laugh at. Actually, it is; it's the mentally ill that we shouldn't laugh at. So Jenny Lawson gives us the opportunity to laugh _with_ her _at_ her illness. Because even if we don't have her illness, we still have some of the symptoms from time to time, because mental illness isn't well-understood, because historically we considered it a character flaw, and the only flaws in Jenny's character are that she isn't able to bless us with rambling, meandering, chaotic bursts of insight and humor like this more often.

    She may not be the perfect narrator, or even a good narrator, for "War and Peace" or other books, but for this one, she can pretend she's good at it, so she is.

    She also allows me to enjoy taxidermy by proxy, because I really don't enjoy it in person. Or in raccoons. Or in 1/3 of a giraffe. But she does, and her enjoyment is contagious, which is probably not the best way to describe it in flu season. Sorry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Witches of Echo Park

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Amber Benson
    • Narrated By Amber Benson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (92)

    Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated - and we will all pay if their power falls... When Elyse MacAllister's great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets.

    Mark says: "Enjoyable Light Story"
    "Enjoyable Light Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book introduces us to the Echo Park coven in Los Angeles, focusing mostly on its newest (and somewhat reluctant) member. The supernatural elements are mostly kept to a minimum, which strengthens the story itself.

    Unfortunately, this is the only book of the series available from Audible (at this time), but the sequels would certainly make good airplane reading.

    As a narrator, Benson is quite good with character voices and narrative voice. (I know this is true from works that she herself didn't write, as well.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Artemis

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By Rosario Dawson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46219)
    Performance
    (43164)
    Story
    (43027)

    Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down.

    will says: "A ferrari with no motor"
    "Plans Are Made, Plans Go Awry"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Weir is possibly the best hard-science SF author currently writing. Every bit of living on the moon (lesser gravity, lesser atmospheric pressure inside the domes, EVA in vacuum, etc.) are the everyday reality for the city of Artemis, and he never lets it slip.

    Jazz Bashara is a refreshing protagonist (can't really call her a "heroine", and she'd kick you if you tried), and Rosario Dawson brings her to life. But Dawson is just as adept at the other voices in this story; crucially, you'll have no problem keeping track of who is who in a multi-person conversation.

    And, as will be familiar to anyone who read (or saw) "The Martian", Weir is still quite adept at laying out perfectly good plans, and then having reality screw them up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Aloha from Hell

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Richard Kadrey
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1970)
    Performance
    (1805)
    Story
    (1797)

    In Sandman Slim Stark came back from hell for revenge. Once again all is not right in L.A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God is on vacation, and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell. Stark’s got to head back down to his old stomping grounds in Hell to rescue his long lost love, stop an insane serial killer, prevent both Good and Evil from completely destroying each other, and stop the demonic Kissi from ruining the party for everyone. Even for Sandman Slim, that’s a tall order. And it’s only the beginning.

    Jim "The Impatient" says: "Book 1, great, Book 2, Good, Book 3, Meh"
    "The Actual Sequel to the First Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The second book in the Sandman Slim series was a good little yarn, but while it used the same settings and characters as the first book, its plot was almost completely independent. This book, despite a few references to occurrences in the second, is the real sequel to the story in the first.

    It's well-paced, and the numerous characters are well-defined.

    Which brings me to my favorite part: MacLeod Andrews really sinks his teeth into each and every character in this book. His reading of the female characters is good enough to keep them distinct, but his reading of the male characters is so brilliant, you'll have no problem keeping track of who's saying what. You may even believe that there's a crowd of different actors crowded around the microphone.

    As an aside, I listened to this while the real Los Angeles was burning in December of 2017. I therefore had no problem picturing a Hell disguised as a burning Los Angeles.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Emmuska Orczy
    • Narrated By Mary Sarah
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (260)
    Performance
    (228)
    Story
    (233)

    Set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution... The title character represents the original "hero with a secret identity" that inspired subsequent literary creations such as Don Diego de la Vega (El Zorro) and Bruce Wayne (the Batman). The popularity of the novel encouraged Orczy to write a number of sequels for her "reckless daredevil" over the next 35 years. The original play was performed to great acclaim in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, while the novel was translated into 16 languages.

    Adam Arnesen says: "Good book. Sub-par reading"
    "Historically Important story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is not the best story of its genre, but it is extremely important because it is quite possibly the first identifiable "super-hero" story, complete with a secret identity and tales of derring-do. Written in 1905 but set in 1792, this swashbuckler is notable not only for its groundbreaking, but also because almost the whole story is told from the point-of-view of the title character's wife.

    There is some unfortunate anti-Semitism late in the story, which is acceptable only in that it is considered a trait of the villains of the piece.

    I rated the overall score higher than either of its parts because this is what gave us Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and eventually Batman. If you love this genre, you have to know this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Obelisk Gate: The Broken Earth, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By N. K. Jemisin
    • Narrated By Robin Miles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3331)
    Performance
    (3036)
    Story
    (3036)

    This is the way the world ends, for the last time. The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night. Essun - once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger - has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever. Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power - and her choices will break the world.

    Jesslyn H says: "Miles is becoming my favorite narrator"
    "Avoids Middle Book Slump"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The middle book of a trilogy too often just marks time, and sets the characters up for the climax in the third book. Many give too much character-dump, telling us all about the people now, after we were introduced in the first book and they meet their destiny in the third.

    "The Obelisk Gate" suffers from none of that. It picks up from "The Fifth Season", sure, but it takes us in two different directions, and keeps up the pace established in the first volume. It also solves some of the mysteries from the first book, setting up for the third, and yet does so in a way that this volume stands on its own: it tells the beginning, middle, and end of its own events.

    This volume deserves its Hugo.

    The narrator is the same as from the first, keeping the tone, accents, and cadences consistent. She portrays the fantastic as ordinary (where appropriate), and allows us to fully accept the supernatural elements as the people who live in this world experience them.


    “AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shadowshaper

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Daniel José Older
    • Narrated By Anika Noni Rose
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (275)
    Performance
    (259)
    Story
    (257)

    Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world. Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her strokeridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

    C. D. White says: "A Vivid Tale for Many Interests"
    "Excellent YA Fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As I am nowhere near being a "young" adult anymore, a lot of YA loses me with its focus on teenage concerns. Not so with Shadowshaper; the concerns are still there, but only as part of telling a much richer story. Sure, some of the "group of young people take on a very old evil" tropes are here, but none gratuitously, and a few tropes are called out and _not_ used when most of us might expect them (for example, the team most emphatically does _not_ split up to cover more ground).

    I also love how Brooklyn is a character in and of itself, as well as informing all of the characters of the story. I am not a city person, but I can certainly appreciate this one. Great setting!

    The narrator is likewise brilliant; she gives each of the characters their own voices, distinct enough that group scenes are still very easy to follow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Stephen Amidon
    • Narrated By Ron Butler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Why is the athlete so important to us? Few public figures can dominate the public imagination with such power and authority. Drawing from art, literature, politics, and history, Something like the Gods explores the powerful grip the athlete has always held on the Western imagination. Amidon examines the archetype of the competitor as it evolved from antiquity to the present day, from athlete-warriors such as Achilles and Ulysses to global media icons like Ali, Jordan, and Tiger Woods.

    Mark says: "Fascinating History"
    "Fascinating History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a "popular history", that is, history from a lay perspective rather than an overly academic one. It's very easy to follow, and if you grew up in British or American culture, there will be several references that you'll know even if you don't follow the sport in question.

    Many histories that tell the stories from a "Western" perspective (which Amidon does take pains to point out is actually relevant here) run the risk of focusing solely on white males only; not only does Amidon make certain not to do this, an entire chapter is devoted to the effects of athleticism on race relations (entitled "Shirts and Skins").

    The narration is serviceable, but the pronunciation of several non-English words (classical Greek characters, French names and phrases, etc.) was so far off the versions I've heard, it unfortunately took me out of the narrative a few times. I'll be extremely embarrassed if he got them right and I've always gotten them wrong.

    You don't have to be a sports fanatic to enjoy this book; you just have to acknowledge that athleticism is a part of the culture you live in.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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