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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

214
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 43 reviews
  • 250 ratings
  • 298 titles in library
  • 3 purchased in 2015
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  • Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By James Shapiro
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (52)

    For nearly two centuries, the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays has been challenged by writers and artists as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, and Sir Derek Jacobi. How could a young man from rural Warwickshire, lacking a university education, write some of the greatest works in the English language?

    Geoffrey says: "Somewhat Surprised and very pleased"
    "Not so much as argument as a narrative"
    Overall

    I bought this book because it was on sale. I never much cared who wrote the plays just so long as we had the plays themselves. If this book convinced me of anything it was that the question of authorship was more important that I thought it was.

    What a wonderful surprise this book was. I never even guessed that the realm of Shakespeare research was so full of intrigue. I love the way the author puts the arguments about Shakespeare in historical context using them to highlight the thinking on storytelling of that particular era. The best part of this book is when he puts Shakespeare himself in historical context during the last two chapters. I never expected to laugh or be emotionally moved by a text written by a scholar of all people.

    The greatest surprise of all was the epilogue which is a passionate essay arguing for the importance of imagination in storytelling. It really made me realize just how relevant the plays still are. It also justified the feelings I've had since I was little kid first capable of sitting through an episode of Wishbone: I don't have any patience for Hamlet and I think Prospero is pompous and self-absorbed. Puck has always been my favorite.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Reamde

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4195)
    Performance
    (3676)
    Story
    (3712)

    Richard Forthrast created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game. But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe - and Richard is at ground zero.

    ShySusan says: "Not perfect, but worth a listen."
    "Unspeakably Dull"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can fit everything that needs to be said about this book into the headline. The premise sounded fascinating and I've enjoyed Stephenson's books in that past, but there is no getting through this one. I'm a pretty patient reader, I like a variety of styles and genres and I hate writing manuals that insist that there's only one way to tell a story, so normally I would avoid passing this kind of judgement but man: this is a book with no hook. There is no way into this story. There is no one interesting character, no driving force of suspense or intrigue, just nothing but mind numbing description, nothing to get a listener through that first hour. I've tried and tried but I just can't. I'd rather listen to the ringing in my ears than this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Powers: Annals of the Western Shore, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Andy Paris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (36)

    Young Gavie sometimes "remembers" the future. But as a slave living among those who feel threatened by the powers of the Marsh people, Gavie must hide his abilities. And then tragic events force the grief-stricken Gavie to flee the only world he's ever known. In his perilous quest for freedom, Gavie must learn to harness his unique gifts, or he may never find a place he can call home.

    Michael says: "Powers? what powers?"
    "Just Right"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is so interesting that I can barely find words to summarize it. It defies summation. It convinced me that Ursula K Le Gun truly deserves all the critical praise and adulation. Each of the previous two books in this trilogy had a crucial flaw. In this volume, Le Guin manages to combine the best aspects of Gifts and Voices and leave out all the problems.

    Don't go into this book expecting high fantasy adventure or magnificent displays of magical might. This is a book that explores the idea of freedom and self agency (of personal power). It doesn't lecture you. It simply uses every word of its story to reinforce a central idea: if everyone in a society isn't free then no one is truly free.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Philip Pullman
    • Narrated By Philip Pullman, full cast
    Overall
    (4074)
    Performance
    (1446)
    Story
    (1467)

    In this stunning sequel to The Golden Compass, the intrepid Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld, Cittagazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: 12-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

    Geoffrey says: "The second book in a fantastic trilogy!"
    "Kid Me Was Right"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I remembered not really liking this book as a kid even though I loved The Golden Compass. I had such a hatred for the second and third books that I thought I ought to reread them and see if they were bad as I remembered. The first hour or so wasn't too bad, but just as I began to think I'd overestimated how rotten the book was things plummeted down hill.

    First off, it becomes increasingly obvious that Pullman didn't really think through the new developments in the story. He obviously wanted to keep the likes of Lee Scoresby in to add interest, but to do so he has to completely change Lee's motivation. Pullman just hand waves this sudden radical shift away. You can also tell that Will was a late addition in the clumsy way he gets spliced into the Grummond story thread. All this amounts to far too much exposition with none of the fun from the first novel.

    Pullman also commits the cardinal sin of becoming so enamored with a new protagonist that he not only allows Will to overshadow Lyra but devotes himself to taking her down a peg. This is the saddest aspect of the Dark Materials trilogy. In the Golden Compass Pullman creates a brilliant, exciting, believable female character. He succeeds so well that he apparently scares himself and spends the next two books making her as cliche a damsel in distress as he can manage. Lyra, who escaped Mrs. Coulter and destroyed Bolvangar and tricked the un-trickable Armored Bears, is tricked repeatedly and loses the Alethiometer and becomes completely dependent on Will for "protection". It turns out her whole quest wasn't to change the world, it was to come help Will fulfill his destiny. He's going to be a man you see so anything he does is automatically more important. It's enough to make me want to puke.

    Philip Pullman is a fool who failed to grasp the crux at the root of social commentary. He wants to shine a critical light on religion but fails to do so, instead he imitates it and his story falls into the same tired patterns. It's like he didn't understand that by basing his story around Christian dogma he was going to have to make the Bible story the bedrock of his novel, the given that allows the hypothesis. This is not the way to go about things. I saw that when I was 12, and now more than a decade later I have the words to explain it.

    If angels are beings of pure spirit, why do they have gender?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cyteen

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By C. J. Cherryh
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman, Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (465)
    Performance
    (415)
    Story
    (423)

    The saga of two young friends trapped in an endless nightmare of suspicion and surveillance, of cyber-programmed servants and a ruling class with century-long lives – and the enigmatic woman who dominates them all.

    troy says: "This is a Heavy Book (lovely too)"
    "Girl on Guy Rape is Not Hot!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's a lot of reasons to hate this book: the lengthy boring descriptions that never amount to anything, the cardboard characters, the way it hints at interesting ideas without ever exploring them because it's too busy trying to keep to a soap opera style intrigue and provide regular sex scenes.... But those are all meaningless because of the horrible double standard that rears its ugly head right at the beginning of the book. Any male character who so much as looks at a female in a lustful way is an evil lech, but a female character who rapes a young male character is just being a "strong independent woman." Maybe this was a response to the rampant misogyny present in SF written by men, but utter crap like this does not help anyone.

    I would not have gotten through this book if I had not been stuck at work. The one good thing to come of it is now I understand a parody SF story Diana Wynne Jones once wrote where she described female hating, coffee obsessed, star pilots with super computers. Now I get it. She nailed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jam

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Yahtzee Croshaw
    • Narrated By Yahtzee Croshaw
    Overall
    (514)
    Performance
    (494)
    Story
    (493)

    We were prepared for an earthquake. We had a flood plan in place. We could even have dealt with zombies. Probably. But no one expected the end to be quite so…sticky…or strawberry scented. Yahtzee Croshaw (Mogworld, Zero Punctuation Reviews) returns to audiobooks with a follow-up to his smash-hit debut: Jam, a dark comedy about the one apocalypse no one predicted.

    Alyssa says: "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back"
    "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading Mogworld, I was hopeful that Yahtzee Croshaw would develop into a decent writer. He has made some steps towards refining his technical skills. I noticed less word repetition and fewer abuses of adverbs in dialogue attribution (though they're still there). Unfortunately, this is a book with only one joke and it wears out very fast.

    I had the opposite experience with this book as I had with Mogworld. Croshaw's first book starts out slow and stilted and builds into something humorous and meaningful. This book elicits chuckles right away but they quickly subside into a long, awkward silence. Each of the secondary characters has only one trait, a problem that is continuously highlighted by Croshaw's reading as he gives each of them a voice and never, ever varies his delivery to fit the situation. The main character doesn't even get one defining trait. His behavior and abilities are erratic and function as the plot demands. I got the impression that the problem was the character never developed a strong enough voice of his own and so Croshaw kept slipping back into his own voice while trying to write him; hence why he is at times the keen sardonic observer, the moral compass, the clueless idiot, and the selfish bastard with no moral sensibilities at all. All these characteristics could be worked into an arc of some sort but that's not the case here. This is showcased by an early scene in which the main is instructed to save a spider, he lists all the reasons he's not going to do so, then spontaneously changes his mind and becomes powerfully and instantly attached to the stupid thing for no discernible reason. Sometimes the main knows just what to do to save the situation, sometimes he's a helpless bunny, and sometimes he magically knows things he would have no possible way of knowing. It's just bad writing. Also, I finished this book only a few days ago and I can't remember anyone's name except Mary the spider.

    This book needed to be half the length. There is no reason for it to go on the way it does repeating the same jokes over and over. There is a sense that this book was only written to cash in on the apocalypse craze and not because Croshaw felt any particular interest in the subject. I can only hope he takes his growing skills and applies them to a subject he cares about. Here's hoping he tries his hand at horror next.

    10 of 11 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
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (50)

    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.

    Ken says: "Book 3 won the 2008 Nebula Award"
    "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
    (86)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    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
    (67)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    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
    (885)
    Performance
    (839)
    Story
    (840)

    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.

    32 of 34 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
    (1108)
    Performance
    (556)
    Story
    (561)

    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 A. 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

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