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Alyssa

I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.

Member Since 2009

181
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 38 reviews
  • 240 ratings
  • 279 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2014
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  • The Wandering Fire: The Fionavar Tapestry, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Guy Gavriel Kay
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (221)
    Performance
    (137)
    Story
    (137)

    A mage's power has brought five university students from our world into a realm where an ancient evil has freed itself from captivity to wreak revenge on its enemies.

    Katherine says: "heavy"
    "Tolkien Lite"
    Overall

    I read the first book of this series feeling somewhat skeptical. I have after all read The Lord of the Rings numerous times and felt no particular need to reread it with all the names changed and the language dumbed-down. I nonetheless purchased this book and listened for an hour or so as the writing became progressively more twisted and nonsensical until the point where Kim summoned King Arthur and I decided to pack it in. This isn't just reheated leftovers this is the stuff of dubious origin from the way back of the fridge.

    Did Guy Gavriel Kay use his own imagination once in the entire creation of this series? Was he running out of Tolkien to steal from and so needed to use even more tired old myths like the Wild Hunt and King Arthur? If I hadn't read Ysabel first I would say that he had no talent at all and should have quit the writing business. However I now know that these are early works of someone who hadn't yet found their voice. By all rights these books ought to be in some bottom drawer somewhere unread by anyone other than his grandchildren who want to embarrass him.

    If you're here after having read some of Kay's more competent works and you're thinking of trying this series don't. Especially if you're here after reading Ysabel. You have just put up with an entire book's worth of Kate Reading butchering the male voice. Well I can tell you Simon Vance's rendition of the female voice is twice as unbearable. Spare yourself the expense and suffering.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gifts: Annals of the Western Shore, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Jim Colby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (114)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (39)

    In the Uplands, people have magical and fearsome gifts. Orrec, a boy growing into his powers, can destroy any living thing with simply a glance. But he refuses to use his ability, and wears a blindfold to protect others from his devastating gaze.

    tasha-kitty says: "LeGuin is guaranteed to please!"
    "Short"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The world described in this book is fascinating, almost even more so than Le Guin's famous Wizard of Earthsea books, which makes it a real shame that we get to spend so little time in it. To be blunt, this program is way overpriced for only five hours. The story in "Gifts" is more like the pilot episode of a TV series than a self contained book. The conflict and moral issues at stake are truly interesting but are resolved in the last 14 minutes of the book with a too convenient death, it is incredibly disappointing, in fact I would go so far as to call it a cop-out.

    I was planning to say that I was eager for the continuation of the story surrounding these characters except I made the mistake of immediately purchasing the Voices audiobook, and so I all ready know it's terrible, and fails to address anything brought up in Gifts, though the main characters do feature prominently.

    The reader, while not awful, doesn't suit the character behind the first person narrative and that takes a little getting over. Enough so that I would recommend getting the print version of this book if that's an option. He is, however, not nearly as dreadful as the reader of Voices.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Voices: Annals of the Western Shore, Book Two

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Melanie Martinez
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (30)

    Voices stars the people of Ansul, a town of scholars and traders conquered by the marauding Alds 17 years ago. When poet Orrec arrives in town, however, the people begin to garner the courage to rebel against their overlords.

    Mark says: "A bit disapointed"
    "Long"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The previous book was far too short, this one makes up for the lack by dragging on without really going anywhere (failing to go anywhere might be the actual theme of the story). This book is mostly world building, which normally I like, except nothing much happens in this world until the last third or so of the narrative, when all the conflict gets fortuitously solved by a string of unrealistic events with which our main character has precious little to do. The character is an oracle so her failure to ever do anything is explained as part of her nature, which doesn't make it any less boring.

    The main flaw of this book is the main character, whose name I can't remember even though I finished listening to the program yesterday. She has a great deal of ambition and motivation but never acts on any of it. Her role in the book is to simply be present in the city where a revolution (if you can call it that) takes place. Not present at the actual pivotal events of the conflict, oh no, but available to hear about them second and third hand. Except at the "climax" of the book when her voice is used by an oracle, maybe, it's a little unclear.

    The reader is bad. Not the worst I've heard by any stretch, but she actively takes away from the story, making it even harder to like the all ready lack luster protagonist. If you're absolutely desperate to find out what happened to the main characters from the last volume, as I was, get this book in paperback, preferably used.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Territory

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Emma Bull
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (21)

    Tombstone, 1881: site of one of the richest strikes in American history, where veins of silver run like lay lines under the earth, a network of power that belongs to anyone who knows how to claim it and defend it.

    H. says: "Good book, great reading"
    "Best Spell-Slinger Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've encountered several novels that have attempted to combine the magic of Fantasy with the style of Western gun-slinging romance, but this is by far the most successful. In most cases, these kind of novels read like what they are, a lumpy hodgepodge of ideas taken from different cultural sources thrown in together. This book is one of a handful where these flavors blend to create a unified whole. It's also much more tightly written than the likes of the Dark Tower saga and unfailingly entertaining throughout. It is the only book I have ever recommended to my Western loving grandfather, my horse loving mother, and my fantasy loving best friend and gotten a universally positive response.

    The book's main flaw is that it reads like the second book of a series; it's not. This is a stand alone novel, unless Ms. Bull has written short stories about these characters that I'm unaware of. The main character Jesse and his friend Chow Lung constantly refer back to a shared past the reader knows nothing about. Lung is even written like a cameo character, as if we should all ready know him well. The novel ends before the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral, probably off the assumption that everyone knows what happened there all ready. This does leave us wondering what becomes of the main characters, which isn't by itself a bad thing, but the conclusion comes off as rushed and abrupt.

    I read the text version of this book some years ago and had fond memories of it, therefor I was relieved to discover that the readers do it justice. Kate Reading is a perfect choice for Millie and I'm glad they cast a male reader for the places where the narrative switches to Jesse. Reading still has the problem of only having one "voice" for male characters but to be fair Kramer has exactly the same problem with female characters, Kate Holliday and Millie sound exactly the same when he reads them. This is only a minor complaint. The audiobook is a wonderful listen and very entertaining.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mogworld

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Yahtzee Croshaw
    • Narrated By Yahtzee Croshaw
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (534)
    Performance
    (505)
    Story
    (508)

    In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been dead for about 60 years. When a renegade necromancer wrenches him from eternal slumber and into a world gone terribly, bizarrely wrong, all Jim wants is to find a way to die properly, once and for all. On his side, he's got a few shambling corpses, an inept thief, and a powerful death wish. But he's up against tough odds....

    Alyssa says: "Yahtzee learns to enunciate"
    "Yahtzee learns to enunciate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this for the same reason almost every one else purchased it for, I'm a fan of Zero Punctuation. On his blog, Yahtzee wrote that it was really hard to learn to speak slowly again and if you listen to the audio sample you can tell. The narration early on is stilted, as if he's trying to compensate. Likewise, the humor in the beginning is strained and trying too hard. He tends to reuse and abuse his metaphors, and over use words such as "insanely" and "suddenly". Sadly, these and other technical problems appear throughout the book.

    However, if you love Yahtzee and are prepared to be both patient and forgiving, this book will reward you in the end. And by patient I mean you need to get through at least the first 3 hours. By that time, Yahtzee's voice has warmed up and the story picks up enough to let the jokes occur more naturally. The main character is endearing and the story amusing and involving. Yahtzee does a good necromancer voice too, though my favorite voice was Slippery John. The ending was appropriately poignant.

    This book is better than other first novels by game designers (it made me think of Johannes Cabal: Necromancer). Yahtzee hasn't ascended to the pantheon with Pratchett and Douglas Adams but I will pick up his other book and hope for more author narrated audio books from him in the future.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • Hearts in Atlantis

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Stephen King, William Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (925)
    Performance
    (393)
    Story
    (395)

    All the stories in this collection from Stephen King are related to the Vietnam War. King fans will recognize echoes of The Dark Tower series in the collection's first story, "Low Men in Yellow Coats." As the characters develop over the next four stories, King's version of the Vietnam War becomes one of his most frightening tales ever.

    Steve says: "Touching, Funny - Amazingly well written and read."
    "Horrible Music"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This audio book commits that cardinal sin of all audio content, the unforgivable, it plays poorly chosen loud interstitial music over the narrator. The upbeat big band music chosen for the dramatic scenes of this book does not fit by any stretch of the imagination and completely ruins the experience. This is definitely a book you need to get in print, give the audio version a wide berth.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ganymede: Clockwork Century, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Cherie Priest
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (80)

    The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig - a supply run for the Seattle Underground - will be paid for by sap money. New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early - but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since.

    Joshua says: "Too many inconsistencies and missed Kate Reading."
    "Priest should have given the previous books a read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Or at least her editor, I presume she has one, should have re-read the previous three books before letting this one go out. This book is plagued by the sort of continuity errors and confusions that I so admired the previous books for avoiding. A good example takes place right at the beginning when Cly meets Mercy for the "first time" even though he's the one who flew her into the city and if he's been visiting as often as he supposedly has it doesn't make sense for him to be meeting her just now. Especially since later in the books he talks about things she's told him, which doesn't make sense if he's only met her once at the beginning of this book.... Ganymede can't even remain consistent with itself let alone the other Clockwork Century novels.

    Furthermore the story isn't even good. It's starts out all right but gets steadily worse as the climax of the book approaches. I don't expect anything approaching historical or scientific accuracy in this book but a little common sense would be welcome. Why wouldn't you want sailors on a submarine, at least one person experienced with water and the river and bay you're sailing through? Answer: because that would have meant Priest doing research before writing this book and that's no fun. How come zombies can suddenly be halted by an old woman banging her cane on a lamp post? Answer: Because this is New Orleans and that's how they do it there? I really can't say. Why would you randomly decide to take a detour in a dangerous machine that's drowned all it's previous crews just when it looks like you might make it to safety? Answer: Because you can't have a climax for a book without shoehorning in a battle! And it is shoehorned in, so blatantly I had to quit reading with about 2 hours left to go. The situation as described in the book makes no sense and the characters have absolutely no motivation to behave the way they do. Priest tries to make up some on the spot and so we end up with dialogue that sounds like it comes from a particularly corny movie from the 1950's. Not only does Cly suddenly have to get tossed the idiot ball to make the climax work but an entire invasion of pirates has to be improbably sped up to make it happen on time. I have a suspicion the only reason they weren't refueling at the point when I quit reading (something it had earlier been stated they would do) was to make low fuel an issue at some critical moment in the most ridiculous way possible.

    What I admired about Boneshaker was how well the world seemed to work. Nothing seemed forced in just for the sake of novelty or plot convenience. In Ganymede everything happens for the sake of novelty or plot convenience, everything from the super cars the residents of New Orleans drive to the flashlights that are now apparently available in every drug store for a dime. The rogue force of anti-Confederates hiding in the swamp drive what are essentially Hummers simply because Priest thinks it would be cool. Having these kind of vehicles widely available not only doesn't fit with the setting but is impractical since they'd be even more likely to become bogged down in a swamp than a horse. The description of the Texan "crawlers" is even worse, making the book read like an alien invasion novel instead of steam punk.

    Ganymede could have been a decent book if any effort at all had been put into either the writing of it or the editing. Since neither Priest or her publisher could be bothered what we have instead is a disappointing mess that the few tidbits we receive about Briar Wilkes's current circumstances do not justify.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • At Home: A Short History of Private Life

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2359)
    Performance
    (1106)
    Story
    (1111)

    Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.”

    Tina says: "Another wonderful Bryson"
    "Needs a fact checker"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoy Bill Bryson's books. However, his chapter about the Anglo Saxon migration period was so off it made me wonder if he'd done any more recent reading on the subject than whatever was in his grade school textbook. I understand that early English history might be a specialized taste but I feel like a non-fiction writer needs to do more than Google a subject before writing a long chapter about it. This is a little thing perhaps but it did make me doubt the veracity of everything else he's written and cast a pall over this otherwise enjoyable book.

    Also I'm not sure Bryson's voice is suitable for a project this long. He tends to swallow his words towards the end of sentences. Though I do enjoy how sometimes he sounds like he's trying not to snicker.

    0 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
    Overall
    (1574)
    Performance
    (621)
    Story
    (630)

    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"
    "Repetitive"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to the first two parts of this three part audio novel and it goes nowhere. I really mean that. The characters stay in the same settings and do nothing at all for the first 10 hours of this book. I like long complex novels that a listener can become truly involved with but this book is not complex, it's just repetitive. By far, the worst part is the piano music. It is even more repetitive than the narration and completely breaks the atmosphere and atmosphere is all this moribund novel has going for it.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Memory of Running

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Ron McLarty
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2760)
    Performance
    (969)
    Story
    (960)

    In late 2003, in his column in Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King called The Memory of Running "the best novel you won't read this year." This glowing endorsement of the audiobook resulted in Ron McLarty receiving a $2 million two-book deal from Viking Penguin. Also, Warner Brothers has shelled out big bucks for the movie rights to The Memory of Running, for which McLarty will write the script.

    Neal says: "Funny and Fascinating, A Wonderful Book"
    "McLarty Needs to Read "On Writing""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had a feeling I was in for trouble when someone decided this book needed to begin with a summary telling you how good it is because you might not notice for yourself. Stephen King wrote an entire book on what makes a good novel and yet his book recommendations always run counter to his own very good advice. McLarty needs to get himself a copy and take note of some key passages:

    1): "I'm not particularly keen on writing which exhaustively describes the physical characteristics of the people in the story and what they're wearing (I find wardrobe inventory particularly irritating; if I want to read descriptions of clothes, I can always jet a J. Crew catalogue.)"

    2) "It's also important to remember it's not about the setting, anyway - it's about the story, it's always about the story...In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it "got boring" the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling."

    3) "In medias res necessitates flashbacks, which strike me as boring and sort of corny...As a reader I'm much more interested in what's going to happen than what all ready did."

    4) "The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn't very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don't get carried away with the rest. Long life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour before closing time, and if you are buying."

    Where's my beer McLarty? You owe me after this mess.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Enclave

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Ann Aguirre
    • Narrated By Emily Bauer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (366)
    Performance
    (320)
    Story
    (318)

    New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings.

    Felicity says: "It was supposed to be good."
    "Another Romance Masquerading as SF"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So boring... So many cliches. I managed to listen to this all the way through but couldn't help rolling my eyes every couple of minutes. Don't be fooled by the summary readers. Post apocalyptic thriller is just a "skin" for the romance novel drivel, it's like the plastic sleeve you probably cover your MP3 with. This is your typical perfect but troubled teen male meets perfect yet troubled female and all is well until they meet another beautiful but troubled male and then there is "conflict" and "drama". I don't know why this book has mutants in it, they seem totally superfluous.

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful

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