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ShySusan

Member Since 2006

1017
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 69 reviews
  • 222 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 71 purchased in 2014
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  • The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Steven Sherrill
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    Overall
    (737)
    Performance
    (692)
    Story
    (692)

    Five thousand years out of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur finds himself in the American South, living in a trailer park and working as a line cook at a steakhouse. No longer a devourer of human flesh, the Minotaur is a socially inept, lonely creature with very human needs. But over a two-week period, as his life dissolves into chaos, this broken and alienated immortal awakens to the possibility for happiness and to the capacity for love.

    Cathy says: "Full of surprises, delightfully unexpected"
    "The author is a professor of English"
    Overall
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    If you have suffered through many English literature classes in college, my headline says it all. Because the main character is the Minotaur, I guess this book technically qualifies as fantasy. But the handling of plot, character, action is totally from the literary genre rather than the fantasy or science fiction genre. Ask yourself which you preferred: Moby Dick or The Lord of the Rings? The Great Gatsby or The Wheel of Time? William Faulkner or George R. R. Martin? If you preferred the first in each of these choices, then you may actually like this book. If you are able to enjoy both the literary and the fantasy genre, then this book may be quite your cup of tea. But if you depended on Cliff Notes to get you through Moby Dick and all its literary brothers, then give this book a miss.

    The editorial synopsis of this book says that the plot revolves around the Minotaur's love for an epileptic waitress. But the plot is a very thin thread amidst a great sea of vividly described scenes wherein nothing much happens and NOTHING has a conclusive ending.

    I finished this book, and I don't usually finish books I don't like, so it had *something*. But I was irritated almost the entire time I was listening to it, and planning my scathing review throughout. Almost everyone in this book was little, mean, or unlikable. A few acts of futile kindness were scattered among a host of petty cruelties. There was instance after instance where some sort of action was called for--call the boss, call the police, call a taxi--where nobody did anything. And there was one truly appalling scene where two children are in considerable danger, their mother is nearby but ignorant of what is going on, and our "hero" goes for a car ride so he won't be there when the @#$% hits the fan.

    There are a number of scenes with sexual overtones, and pretty much every one of them is unpleasant, bordering on disgusting, in some way. The main character comes across as being mentally retarded--really. He is good at a few things, so I guess he couldn't be, but if you like your protagonists to be brilliant, witty, brave, or effective, look elsewhere.

    The book ends in the same limping, ineffective way of everything that went before it. I THINK the author thinks he wrote a happy ending, but I'm not sure. There was a brief epilogue that was supposed to inform us, I guess. But the images were disjointed and symbolic, and conveyed nothing much to me. I suppose if I'd been reading this story instead of listening to it, I could have gone back over the epilogue 15 or 20 times to figure out what it was meant to convey, but I don't think listening to it again would have helped much, and I don't care enough about this story to (heaven forbid!) spend more money to buy a printed copy. Or even to go to my local library and look for it.

    As you may have deduced by now, I won't be recommending this book to all my friends. Nor do I recommend it to you.

    48 of 56 people found this review helpful
  • The Daemon Prism: Collegia Magica, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Carol Berg
    • Narrated By Angele Masters, David DeVries, Daniel May, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (71)

    Dante the necromancer is the most reviled man in Sabria, indicted by for crimes against the living and the dead. He salves bitterness with a magical puzzle - a desperate soldier's dream of an imprisoned sorceress and a faceted glass that can grant one's utmost desires. But the dream is a seductive trap. Haunted, blind, driven to the verges of the world, Dante must risk everything he values to unravel a mystery of ancient magic, sacred legend, and the truth of the divine.

    ShySusan says: "This is a review of the book--not the narrator."
    "This is a review of the book--not the narrator."
    Overall
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    I, too, thought they picked the wrong guy to be the voice of Dante. Some people are far more sensitive to the narrator's voice than others (this means you, Gordon). But if you can just relax and pay attention to the words rather than how they are delivered, I think you will find this a powerful story.

    This is the last book of a trilogy and it brings the story to a magnificent ending which I would never have suspected was awaiting us as I read the first book. I suppose it would be possible to understand and follow this book as a stand alone, but your experience and understanding will be very much richer if you read all three books in their proper order.

    The main character through most of the book is Dante, a sorcerer. He is a very powerful magician with particularly bad control of his temper. In this third book of the trilogy, we finally learn about those parts of his past which contribute to his apparent hatred of everybody. But we also learn that he has a destiny which even he has never suspected which also drives his rages.

    I find Dante not only the most interesting character in this trilogy but one of the more interesting and original characters in all the fantasy I have ever read.

    I recommend this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Spirit Lens: A Novel of the Collegia Magica

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Carol Berg
    • Narrated By David DeVries
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (236)
    Story
    (241)

    For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery's decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life's bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria's last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the king of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

    mike says: "First Rate"
    "This trilogy is very fresh and original."
    Overall
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    Many fantasy series are very predictable. There is the sword and sorcery type typified by Tolkien. There is the paranormal detective typified by Jim Butcher, etc. I found this trilogy to be quite different from any I had read before.

    I liked it.... with some reservations.

    Each of the three books in the trilogy is quite long (17, 18, and 21 hours), and in the early parts of each book, the story dragged a little for me. But each book comes to an exciting and unusual ending which very definitely justifies the long buildup.

    I didn't always understand everything that happened. I suspect that this arose from lapses in my attention. If I had been reading rather than listening to this, I suspect I would have gone back from time to time to skim a few pages and figure out what I had missed. But you can't really skim in an audiobook, so I just plowed on and eventually I'd figure things out. However, if you are into the possibility of getting the Kindle book along with the Audible book, this trilogy would probably be a good one to do it with. (Or check out the book from your local library and have it on hand while you are listening.)

    The cast of characters is about the same over the three books, but each book is narrated from a different point of view. The characters are complex and interesting and I didn't find any of them to be ripoffs of any other characters I have ever known.

    Each of the first two books comes to a satisfactory end, but the third book is a triumph. It will be well worth your trouble to complete the trilogy.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Some Lie and Some Die

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Ruth Rendell
    • Narrated By Nigel Anthony
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    For awhile, the rock festival at "Sundays" went well. The sun shone, the bands played, and everyone - except a few angry neighbors - seemed to enjoy themselves. Then the weather changed. And in a nearby quarry, two lovers found a body that made even Inspector Wexford's stomach lurch.…

    ShySusan says: "Everyone in this book is neurotic."
    "Everyone in this book is neurotic."
    Overall
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    I know that I am in the minority here, but I don't care. I've got to have my say on this book. Every. Single. Blessed. Person. In. This. Book. Is. NEUROTIC!

    I heard so many good things about Ruth Rendell, that I tried the first book in this series. And I hated it. But, I told myself, sometimes it takes a few books for the author to hit her stride. So I went down about halfway on the list and tried this one. ARRRRGGGHHH!!!
    I plan to ask Audible for my credit back on this one.

    There wasn't a single person in this book that I liked. Every person was neurotic. The murder victim was a compulsive liar, hated her mother and wasn't willing to marry a man unless he had power and money. The detective's sidekick was pathologically over-protective of his children, treating older teens as if they were preschoolers. One woman's husband worked from home, and she didn't dare leave the house lest he should want a cup of tea or something. She didn't read a book or watch television, she didn't get a part-time job, she didn't go for a walk in the garden on nice days. She just sat by the window and stared out at the world while waiting for her lord and master to call. And meanwhile he showed his contempt for her at every opportunity.

    Everyone felt obliged to apologize for everything. Sometimes they would apologize for such innocuous behaviors that I had to roll my eyes. Yet everyone felt free to criticize everyone around them. There was nothing that didn't merit criticism: If you decorated your house differently than someone else would have decorated it, you were crude or coarse. No matter what you wore, someone would criticize it. It would be too modern for some and too dowdy for others, but no one would like it and they'd all look down their noses at you for it. Everyone was judging everyone else at all times.

    The Wikipedia article on Ruth Rendell says that she has been praised for her psychological crime novels, but it seemed to me that she bought a 1950s-era abnormal psychology text at a used book store and then assigned one chapter of the text to each character. They were so cartoonishly overdrawn as to be ridiculous.

    If English people are really like this, I'm amazed that there are any English left in the world. I'd think that most would commit suicide and the remainder would be too depressed to reproduce.

    I absolutely DO NOT recommend this book or this series.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Far West

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Patricia C. Wrede
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (184)
    Performance
    (169)
    Story
    (167)

    Eff is an unlucky 13th child...but also the seventh daughter in her family. Her twin brother, Lan, is a powerful double seventh son. Her life at the edge of the Great Barrier Spell is different from anyone else's that she knows.

    ShySusan says: "I hope this is a series and not just a trilogy."
    "I hope this is a series and not just a trilogy."
    Overall
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    I have now read all three books in this trilogy and I sincerely hope that Wrede's readers will convince her to turn this into a series. I can see plenty of paths she could take towards turning out more books about this interesting young woman.

    Over the arc of the trilogy, I really enjoyed the unfolding of her personality, from a disregarded and dismissed child to struggling adolescence to blossoming young woman. I don't want to provide spoilers, but I find that while Lan is an admirable and deserving young man, Eff is by far the more creative and interesting character.

    I enjoyed the interplay between events in our history and how they differ in Eff's. And I really enjoyed learning that both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were seventh sons of seventh sons. (We should have guessed.) 8-)

    I kept thinking during the first book in this trilogy that she kept hanging revolvers on walls and then not shooting them (see Wikipedia article, "Chekhov's Gun") It was revealing in this book to see all those guns being taken down and used. Clearly, this entire series was mapped out before she completed the first one.

    To sum up: Don't start with this book. Read them in their proper order: "Thirteenth Child", then "Across the Great Barrier", and then this one.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor J. Rufus Fears
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (90)

    History is made and defined by landmark events-moments that irrevocably changed the course of human civilization. They have given us: spiritual and political ideas; catastrophic battles and wars; scientific and technological advances; world leaders both influential and monstrous; and cultural works of unparalleled beauty.

    Quaker says: "Fun course but Professor Fears is not for everyone"
    "He makes history fun to read (listen to)"
    Overall
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    This is the second of the Great Courses I have read which is done by Professor Fears, and I have thoroughly enjoyed both of them. He has a very lively and at times humorous way of telling his stories which is very easy to listen to. Also, he goes into detail enough about background and culture so that we can really understand why these stories matter to us today.

    He covers a really large variety of topics, too. There are political events like Caesar crossing the Rubicon or the Athenians driving off the Persians or the ascension to power of Adolf Hitler. There are religious events like the life of Buddha or Jesus. There are scientific or medical events like the lives of Hippocrates, Pasteur or Darwin. There were a few events I had never heard of, but there were many more events I had heard of but didn't know much about. He brought these events into sharp focus and helped me understand that my life today would be very different than what it is if this or that event had not taken place.

    Many of the events in the early part of the course were religious in nature--because, I suppose, religion was such an integral part of the lives of ancient peoples. I am not a believer in any religion, but I can see that these events were still very important in shaping our world into what it is today, so they needed to be included in this course.

    Bottom line: I really enjoyed this, and I recommend it to you.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Churchill

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor J. Rufus Fears
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (47)

    In these 12 inspiring lectures, Professor Fears presents a well-balanced portrait of Churchill that does not whitewash his flaws. Yet he also draws on the most recent historical scholarship and material from Churchill's writings and speeches to make the case that Churchill belongs with Pericles of Athens and Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest statesmen in the history of democracy.

    Jean says: "A great review of Churchill's life"
    "A good biography of a great man."
    Overall
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    A number of years ago, before I joined Audible, I listened to a biography of Winston Churchill. I had heard all my life what a great man he was and I decided I wanted to know the details. To my amazement, this biography revealed that Churchill wasn't a great man at all. He was rather stupid and petty and got a lot more credit than he deserved, etc., etc. I was quite confused. I wasn't totally willing to give up my idea of him at a great man, and I wondered why the author of that biography would put in so much time and effort writing a book about a man he despised.

    Toward the end of THIS biography, the author mentions that there have been a couple of biographies in recent years that basically set out to make Churchill seem a failure at everything. I liked this book much better.

    Yes, Winston Churchill was a flawed personality. Maybe this had something to do with the way he was raised. His mother was promiscuous and his father died of syphilis. Both his parents neglected him terribly as a child. He was sent off to boarding school at the age of seven, and when his father traveled to the city where the school was to give a speech, he didn't bother to visit his son, even though the school was just across the street.

    He was also highly intelligent and he was a true hero on many occasions. I really liked this biography. While the author mentioned where he fell short occasionally, he spent more time detailing Churchill's many positive attributes.

    I finished this book in only two days, which shows how gripping it was. I didn't want to turn it off for sleep.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Bones of Paris

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Laurie R. King
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays
    Overall
    (352)
    Performance
    (309)
    Story
    (304)

    New York Times best-selling author Laurie R. King garners widespread acclaim for her suspenseful novels rich with historical detail. Set in the vibrant Paris Jazz Age, The Bones of Paris introduces private investigator Harris Stuyvesant, an American agent who’s been given the plum assignment of locating beautiful young model Philippa Crosby. But when Philippa’s trail ends at the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, Stuyvesant discovers a world where art meets sexual depravity - and where a savage killer lurks in the shadows.

    ShySusan says: "I'm not sure..."
    "I'm not sure..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have mixed feelings about this book. It is the first book in a new series for King. I can understand that she might be feeling burned out on Mary Russell and want a change. I just wasn't sure about this one.

    The cons:

    First of all this story takes place in Paris, and I speak NO French. There was a lot of French conversation going on, and while King was generally good about going back and providing the translation, there was so much of it, I got impatient at times.

    Second, the story was creepy. A lot of the creepiness was my own imagination kicking in, I admit. And I admit that it is an indicator of how good a writer King is that I could feel that creeped out on the basis of so few details. And I know that many people like creepiness. To let you gauge how timid I am when it comes to creepiness, I don't read Stephen King or Dean Koontz at all because I'm afraid of them. So you can judge this based on your personal Creepometer. If you read Stephen King or Dean Koontz, you shouldn't have any problem with this book. But if you are a solid yellow coward when it comes to creepiness, beware.

    The pros:

    I like the main character (mostly). He is a manly man. I like his English friend and hope he will turn up in future books in the series. I like the way real people who were really in Paris at the time turn up in the story. (I really got a kick from the Hemingway references.) Ms. King always seems to do massive research about her locations and includes details that make a place and time come to life.

    The plot was complex. There were several very viable candidates to choose from for the role of murderer, and I didn't figure out who it was until close to the end.

    Bottom line: I WILL be getting the next book in this series. I recommend that you try it.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Rose Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Robin McKinley
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (49)

    "It is the heart of this place, and it is dying," says the Beast. And it is true; the center of the Beast's palace, the glittering glasshouse that brings Beauty both comfort and delight in her strange new environment, is filled with leafless brown rosebushes. But deep within this enchanted world, new life, at once subtle and strong, is about to awaken. Twenty years ago Robin McKinley enthralled listeners with the power of Beauty. Now this extraordinarily gifted novelist retells the story of Beauty and the Beast again - but in a totally new way, with fresh perspective, ingenuity, and mature insight.

    ShySusan says: "Good, but not as good as Beauty"
    "Good, but not as good as Beauty"
    Overall
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    Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors in the whole world. Her first book is entitled, "Beauty" and is the story of Beauty and the Beast. Oddly, many years and books after "Beauty" Robin chose to tell the story of Beauty and the Beast again. And that is this book.

    Both books have some things in common. They are both telling the same fairy tale, after all. But this story is fairly different in many ways. When this book first came out on paper, I got it immediately, but I was Very fond of "Beauty" and I think I was jealous on its behalf. I did not reread "Rose Daughter" again until this audio version came out. I can see now that "Rose Daughter" has much to offer. I think "Beauty" was the romantic ideal of an unmarried woman in her 20s, and "Rose Daughter" is the romantic ideal of a married woman in her 40s.

    However.

    I still like "Beauty" better.

    My advice if you have never read any of Robin's books: Start with "Beauty" or "The Blue Sword" or "The Hero and the Crown". Then if you fall in love with Robin's work, branch out into her other books, including this one.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Dragonhaven

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Robin McKinley
    • Narrated By Noah Galvin
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    Dragons are extinct in the wild, but the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park is home to about two hundred of the world's remaining creatures. Until Jake discovers a dying dragon that has given birth - and one of the babies is still alive.

    Gabrielle says: "Angsty Teenager, Meet Baby Dragon"
    "A master author at the top of her powers."
    Overall
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    Robin McKinley's protagonists are usually young women. In this book the main character is a teenage boy. That boy is telling his story in the first person, and it is a story which he finds hard to tell. So in the beginning the story seems rough, clumsily written. This is not a sign that Robin McKinley is a poor writer. It's an indicator that she is a masterful writer, and she is telling the story not in her own voice, but in the voice of that inexperienced young man.

    And it is a wonderful story.

    In much science fiction and fantasy, the aliens or talking creatures simply seem like humans in funny looking costumes. But the dragons in this story truly seem alien in their being. Their thoughts and attitudes are not human. Their point of view is not human. And they don't find it any easier to understand humans than humans can understand them.

    If you have read her most popular books (The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, etc.), please don't go into this one expecting more of the same or you may be disappointed. This book is fairly different from most of her books. It needs to be taken on its own. But if you can leave all your preconceptions at the door, I think you will find this a story well worth reading.

    A word about the narrator. I think his voice fits the main character admirably. He did a good job.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Robin McKinley
    • Narrated By Charlotte Parry
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (137)
    Story
    (140)

    New York Times best-selling author Robin McKinley has won numerous awards for her writing, including the prestigious Newbery Medal. Though her two sisters are beautiful, Beauty, despite her name, is thin and awkward - but she's also courageous. So when her father makes a terrible promise to a Beast living in an enchanted castle, Beauty knows she must volunteer to be the Beast's prisoner.

    Cybele Bell says: "she's really quite a perfect reader"
    "Best version of B&tB I've ever read, seen, heard."
    Overall
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    There are a lot of versions of Beauty and the Beast out there. I've read different versions of the fairy tale, seen a TV movie, and of course Disney's version. This one is my favorite.

    Audible has this categorized as a book for 8-10 year-old kids. I didn't encounter it until I was in my 30s, I am now in my 60s, and I still reread it. So I recommend this book to women of any age.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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