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Heidi

I read epic sci-fi and historic fiction, good non-fiction science, classic philosophy, history and little bits of what blows through my ears

Maple Valley, WA, United States | Member Since 2011

ratings
162
REVIEWS
11
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
1
HELPFUL VOTES
10

  • The Children of the Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Vernor Vinge
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (175)
    Performance
    (154)
    Story
    (155)

    Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them - and among the humans - who seek power. And no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization....

    Heidi says: "The story isn't over yet"
    "The story isn't over yet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've seen a few uncharatable reviews of this book mixed in to the many that suggest Vinge had a ghost writer. Truly, you can not please everyone. I saw no evidence of this.

    This is a character story, a view of social dynamics, the community of belief , and how things always work out if you alter the definition of success. It is small in scope and personal.

    If you're looking for a grand love story, an easy hero, or the triumph of dazzling technology this is not the book. If you want to follow the story that Vinge is telling and clearly has not finished then you can't miss this installment. I can't say that the book stands on its own because I came to it with the great saga the gave birth to it in my mind.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Cryptonomicon

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    Overall
    (2059)
    Performance
    (1411)
    Story
    (1430)

    Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

    flaos says: "Finally Audible"
    "Fun, informative, captivating, disjoint."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you care nothing for the events of WWII, nothing for cryptography, and nothing for technology then you might not want to choose this work. However, if you do, I'm betting you'll find a new appreciation for these subjects. Stephenson's scholarship, character development, humor, plain talk and refined insights weave an engaging tapestry.

    Unfortunately the author has chosen to criss-cross the story back and forth through space and generations like a toddler with a crayon forgetting, perhaps, that we experience life in a forward directed line before we can remember it dis-jointly. This whiplash seems unnecessary and self-indulgent. I kept wishing I had started diagramming the story at the outset.

    Compounding this problem, the audio book seems to have a considerable sequence error according to other listeners. I have not verified this against a paper copy, but recommend that a paperback or ebook should accompany this version.

    I am not thrilled by Dufris' narration, but it is on aesthetic, not fundamental grounds. I found myself pulled out of the story over and over to roll my eyes. Perhaps he was channeling his author, or both of them were channeling the characters, letting a certain male adolscence take over what might have been a more expressive subtlety and literary state of mind.

    All this said, I still really enjoyed the story and found that I really wished it had gone on long enough see what kind of people some of the characters became.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Jung Chang
    • Narrated By Jolene Kim
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (40)

    At the age of 16, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor's numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China - behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.

    Heidi says: "Very Important if flawed history of a leader"
    "Very Important if flawed history of a leader"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Critics of this work argue that Jung Chang has fallen in love with her subject, lost objectivity, taken a narrow view, abandoned scholarly rigor, and heavens, failed to entertain.
    I am not a scholar of Chinese History and have only a little Mandarin but I feel compelled to respond to some of these assertions.

    Jung Chang clearly sympathizes with Cixi, and I can not imagine her failing to do so. The author has a more intimate connection to her subject than either a doctrinal scholar of the People's Republic or any Western male scholar will. In fact, I find myself becoming incensed by the decidedly male view that seems to suggest that such a constrained, uneducated, besieged woman, standing for the vast and deep heritage of the Dynasty that self-identified as China could have done much better. The author does not hide Cixi's failings, in fact she is careful to attempt to discover how Cixi perceived those now condemnable actions. She does however fail to anticipate the criticism of Cixi's choice to promote constitutional monarchy, and her weak provision for succession.

    We have not been provided with this view before. It is a fascinating study of willful leadership and a sense of responsibility from a position of privileged powerlessness - and somehow feels familiar and understandable even now to an average Western woman in the 21st century. Jolene Kim's appropriately noninflected delivery and slightly accented voice in quotation lend an appropriate atmosphere to the work. The author is doing her level best to give this woman her voice. Western critiques that attack her employment of epithet and mannerism are ignorant of historic cultural forms.

    I do agree however, that better source citation, anticipation and address of objections, and inclusion of the external viewpoint from outside of the court to help us understand what she could and could not have understood and significant junctures in her rule would have improved this work. I also agree that the treatment of some topics are either over-extended or underrepresented.

    I think it is perhaps important to recognize the limits of any human holding together the last moments of a regime with some compassion. To do so, may help our own leaders see in those people the image of themselves.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By E. L. James
    • Narrated By Becca Battoe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14933)
    Performance
    (12295)
    Story
    (12928)

    When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

    Amazon Customer says: "Holy Crap minus the Holy"
    "College freshman's fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I could write this drek in a coma. It fulfills all the one-time Cinderella impulses I am loathe to admit I ever filled countless journal pages with. Although the anemic character development, insipid dialogue, and gratuitous light porn is insulting, I admit it is also entertaining to the secret tabloid voyeur in all of us . Also as I refuse to read the following sequels I have relied on other's synopses to evaluate the whole story. With that remove I can only speculate that the author made a valiant attempt to nuance and explore the complexity of a Power Exchange relationship and failed so miserably because of her inexperience as an author - inexperience compounded by the dismal and infuriating performance of the narrator.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tai-Pan: A Novel of Hong Kong

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By James Clavell
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (712)
    Performance
    (396)
    Story
    (395)

    After the British seize Hong Kong following the first Opium War, the owners of two competing trading companies seek to destroy each other, both professionally and personally.

    Cy Judge says: "A great audio book"
    "Clavell at his finest."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are no heros here, but all are heroic. Among the smells, and sights and sounds of the ordinary and the legendary, history dresses its naked errors in understanding and importance. I will never see Hong Kong without remembering what happened here in these pages.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shantaram

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Gregory David Roberts
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    Overall
    (3237)
    Performance
    (1577)
    Story
    (1576)

    This mesmerizing first novel tells the epic journey of Lin, an escaped convict who flees maximum security prison in Australia to disappear into the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The keys to unlock the mysteries that bind Lin are held by two people: his mentor Khader Khan, mafia godfather and criminal-philosopher; and the beautiful, elusive Karla, whose passions are driven by dangerous secrets.

    Jamie says: "Do Not Miss This"
    "Author needed a much better editor."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a GREAT 900 page adventure story that I couldn't put down despite the author's glorification and over-endowment of an anti-hero (himself), his melodramatic pseudo-philosophizing, and his over-stereotyping of characters. Even the brilliant narration of Humphrey Bower is infected by Robert's self-importance. A really good editor could have dealt with all of these sins, allowing the existing great story telling, beautiful writing, interesting characters, and discerning insight to stand as a new classic work of art. That didn't happen. Either you will despair of the author's deep flaws and despise this work or you will provide your own editorial sponsorship as you read and enjoy what is there to be discovered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Real Story: The Gap into Conflict: The Gap Cycle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Stephen R. Donaldson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (167)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (152)

    Author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson returns with this exciting and long-awaited new series that takes us into a stunningly imagined future to tell a timeless story of adventure and the implacable conflict of good and evil within each of us.

    Cody says: "The Real Story"
    "Annoying narrator, good characters, thin story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am not a fan of narrator Scott Brick, he is melodramatic. Donaldson is perhaps over-enamored with his connection to Wagner, but the character development is satisfying as far as it goes. This series should perhaps be collapsed into three books instead of 5. This feels like a novella.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power and Deception in American History

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andrew P Napolitano
    • Narrated By Andrew P Napolitano
    Overall
    (255)
    Performance
    (203)
    Story
    (207)

    America is the land of the free, after all. Does it really matter whether our politicians bend the truth here and there? When the truth is traded for lies, our freedoms are diminished and don’t return. In Lies the Government Told You, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano reveals how America’s freedom, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, has been forfeited by a government more protective of its own power than its obligations to preserve our individual liberties.

    Jonnie says: "Great book"
    "Important to listen to regardless of convictions"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a Progressive Liberal Democrat and I recommend this book. Understanding the fundamental mechanics of Constitutional debate and history only strengthens each of us as citizens. I have not changed my opinions as a result of hearing Judge Napolitano's arguments, but I am much clearer about the issues, the ramifications of policies and the location of mines in the political landscape. Idealists may bristle at his explicit distaste for honoured icons and ideals. So be it. It is rare to find such erudition and intelligent eloquence in someone with whom I disagree on so many points. Makes me miss Buckley.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Steven Strogatz
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (248)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (173)

    At once elegant and riveting, Sync tells the story of the dawn of a new science. Steven Strogatz, a leading mathematician in the fields of chaos and complexity theory, explains how enormous systems can synchronize themselves, from the electrons in a superconductor to the pacemaker cells in our hearts. He shows that although these phenomena might seem unrelated on the surface, at a deeper level there is a connection, forged by the unifying power of mathematics.

    Ryan says: "Engaging, but maybe better suited for non-audio"
    "For the amateur scientist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Sync again? Why?

    I will listen to this again if only to pull threads of my understanding in a little tighter. After listening to such an arc of theoretical/cutting edge science one tends to imagine the insights of sudden genius just lurking a hair breadth away.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The universe really...


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Alan Alda walks into Strogatz's office


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I wanted to and did savour the thoughts that bubbled up in between sections.


    Any additional comments?

    It is hard to know who will appreciate Sync, lovers of Science and Math certainly. But organizational theorists of every stripe should see something here as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Fall of Hyperion

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Dan Simmons
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2231)
    Performance
    (1309)
    Story
    (1335)

    In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. Onthe world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing - nothing anywhere in the universe - will ever be the same.

    Darwin8u says: "Hyperion is FALLEN, am I too to fall?"
    "Requires thought and compassion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to friends that enjoy philosophy, theology and literature.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Consul. The tragic hero in a very Greek way.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the depiction of the hybrid Severin's last days on the Hidden Earth.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me think, and pity.


    Any additional comments?

    Makes you want to go back and read Keats where the first book of the series makes you want to read Chaucer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2106)
    Performance
    (1320)
    Story
    (1326)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "The first time I have wept over the periodic table"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Disappearing Spoon in three words, what would they be?

    Enlightening, endearing, invigorating


    What other book might you compare The Disappearing Spoon to and why?

    The Disappearing Spoon has a similar level of comprehensiveness, scholarship and careful analysis as The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker but perhaps with even more love of its subject seaming the joins of its argument. Both dusted, uncluttered and cleaned up my mental shelves and helped me remember why I love mankind.


    What does Sean Runnette bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Sean is clearly dearly fond and understanding of the work he narrates. I can not imagine a more personable reading.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed, wept, smiled stupidly, stared slack-jawed and wide-eyed throughout this listening.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have any interest in science at all listen to this book and then get it for someone you love.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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