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crazybatcow

I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)

East Coast, Canada | Member Since 2007

1590
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 242 reviews
  • 348 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2014
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  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By John McWhorter
    • Narrated By John McWhorter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (549)
    Performance
    (350)
    Story
    (346)

    A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar. Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history.

    Mike says: "Great for casual linguists"
    "Probably better in audio than print"
    Overall

    It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect: a bit of a background on why English is the kind of language it is. Not particularly surprising or novel, but it was interesting enough to pass the time. English seems to be different from its "related" languages and the author is quite, err, let's use the word "adamant" (rather than ranting) about the Celtic impact on English. Yes, he does admit that traditional scholars disagree and offers his own "evidence" but it isn't his disagreement with the establishment that got a little annoying but his repetitive "digs" on the subject.

    I think it's very suitable for audio because he discusses nuances of language/pronunciation which I don't think would have been as noticeable in writing. He narrates it fairly well, but you can tell it's not his primary job. I think his pronunciation of foreign words was clear enough, and I have no idea if it was correct.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Atopia Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Matthew Mather
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels, Nick Podehl, Angela Dawe, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (63)

    In the near future, to escape the crush and clutter of a packed and polluted Earth, the world’s elite flock to Atopia, an enormous corporate-owned artificial island in the Pacific Ocean. It is there that Dr. Patricia Killiam rushes to perfect the ultimate in virtual reality: a program to save the ravaged Earth from mankind’s insatiable appetite for natural resources.

    Amanda says: "Remarkable."
    "Must be a new author..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is not nearly as good as the reviews lead you to believe. It is a collection of short stories that are, apparently, connected. Story one is about a woman who wishes her reality away... probably a better concept if we cared about the character, or could accept her being stupid enough to do what she does in the story. She is supposed to be a professional, and yet... her choices are ones an 8 year old would know better than to make.

    Story 2... was just dumb. Sexist and flat characters who don't do anything other than discuss how unhappy one of them is. I think this is supposed to contain a moral, but I don't know what it is. Unless it is that having children won't save a relationship.

    Book 3 was okay in that it was kind of interesting at the start, but, by the end of it (and remember it is short so I shouldn't have had enough time to be annoyed), you have heard about 20 different possibilities which are just more variations on a theme. The story is too short to add extra scenes just to show how "smart" the author is in thinking up another possible time line.

    Story 4 is by far the worst. Very lecturey on the nature of virtual reality and the main character is just a stereotypical 20-something entitled boy. Who is described using drugs in a manner that someone who has never used drugs might describe.

    All in all: waste of time and money. The concept could have been interesting, but the presentation by this selection of 4 stories certainly didn't express the concept very well. There is a very strong sense that the author is fairly new at the craft: maybe with more seasoning he could write characters we care about, or scenes that express new technology without lecturing, or events that sound realistic, even within the high/new tech field.

    The narration is acceptable. There are different narrators for the story and it seems that none of them are professional narrators, though they are understandable and clear. They just don't add much to the story. There is no sex or gore, and if there was swearing it was minimal.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Yendi: Vlad Taltos, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Steven Brust
    • Narrated By Bernard Setaro Clark
    Overall
    (166)
    Performance
    (145)
    Story
    (151)

    In which Vlad Taltos and his Jhereg learn how the love of a good woman can turn a cold-blooded killer into a real mean SOB.... Vlad tells the story of his early days in the House Jhereg, how he found himself in a Jhereg war, and how he fell in love with the wonderful woman, Yendi, who killed him.

    Ron says: "Prequel"
    "A prequel with a slightly different tone."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book occurs before book 1 of the series (chronologically). I did not know this when I picked it up so was bit confused as to the goings-on - particularly when some stuff that happened in this story had already been referred to in book one.

    There is a bit less of urban fantasy vigilante novel feel and a bit more of a detective novel feel. And a bit more investigating and a bit less action. Not sure if this was a good thing, or a bad one though... I like having the action to move it forward and feel like justice is being served, but the detective part helped flesh out the world and characters. I guess, all in all, it was just different in tone from book one, but not worse because of that, just less of a vigilante novel than I had been expecting.

    All in all, it was pretty good, and I have bought the rest in the series. Though I do hope it goes back to the tone/feel of book one. The narration is very good. I think there was a tiny bit of swearing, but no graphic sex or violence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kindness Goes Unpunished: A Walt Longmire Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Craig Johnson
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (1578)
    Performance
    (1145)
    Story
    (1134)

    Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire mysteries are critically acclaimed. Longmire's third outing takes him from Wyoming to Philadelphia to investigate a brutal assault on his daughter, Cady. Walt believes her ex-boyfriend is behind the crime and searches him out. But when he turns up dead, Walt is back to square one.

    TravisD says: "Wyoming Fun-- in Philadelphia"
    "Serious story with some humorous moments..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I chuckled out loud a couple times in the first few pages. That is an excellent omen.

    Have to say though, I really dislike dream-sequence scenes. Dreams don't mean anything in real life, why would they mean anything in fiction? Fortunately there were only a couple of these.

    The plot is a bit convoluted, but ultimately Johnson does explain it all out, so you are not left trying to figure out how A led to B. Since I don't try to figure out plots before they unfold, I am glad that it was all summarized for me.

    I did read the earlier books in the series, but that was awhile ago so I forget the age difference between Walt and Vic...I think it is significant, and, as such, there is a thread of un-believability in this book. But anyway.

    My only real complaint is actually the number of characters. I am okay with the regulars (we already met them in earlier books) but there are a couple different bad guys, and some other characters that play a role, and it was actually a little difficult to keep them all straight. 

    The narration is excellent. There is no gore or graphic sex or violence and I think there is only occasional swearing. I bought the rest in the series on Audible.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Company: A Novel of the CIA

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Robert Littell
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (4766)
    Performance
    (1890)
    Story
    (1886)

    "If Robert Littell didn't invent the American spy novel," says Tom Clancy, "he should have." In this spectacular Cold-War-as-Alice-in-Wonderland epic, Littell, "the American le Carre," takes us down the rabbit hole and into the labyrinthine world of espionage that has been the CIA for the last half-century. "Ostensibly a single novel, The Company can also be listened to as an anthology of cracking good spy stories," says (Publishers Weekly).

    Cynthia says: "Hang on to your Hat"
    "Was it fiction... or not??"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been reading this book FOREVER!!! It is super long so I kept putting it down and reading other novels before finishing this one. All in all I enjoyed it, but I kinda wish it hadn't been all in one novel - perhaps the first part of the novel, say to 1960 - could be book one, and the post 1960 part be book two. That way I wouldn't have felt like the book went on forever. (Note that I prefer audio books that are 8-12 hours long.)

    It covers a lot of ground though: basically it follows the CIA from its inception to the modern day 'activities' it gets up to. Lots of spy vs counter-spy stuff, and lots of details regarding specific 'coups' or attempted coups, by the CIA (i.e the Bay of Pigs).

    Was the historical background accurate? I have no idea, but it *sounded* like it was. I am not a big follower of U.S. politics, and I don't know if I believe in the Cold War hype, so many of the BIG ISSUES in this book didn't shock or awe me because I either didn't care, or never believed it was a real threat in the first place. But the characters in the book did care, and we cared about what would happened to them, so the story worked on this level.

    It might be hard to tell as you wade through the book, but there is a consistent thread, and a bit of a storyline outside of detailing the various CIA activities. Essentially, the book follows the entire careers (and sometimes lives) of a handful of characters. It is well written, and, for a book so long, and on such dry material, it is actually very interesting. Once you become familiar with the characters (there are a lot of central ones), you will want to know how each of them fits in with the overarching plot.

    I think there was the odd swear word, but nothing excessive. There is nothing graphic (sex or violence) and the narrator was quite good, enthusiastic without being overly dramatic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Forest Bull

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Terry Maggert
    • Narrated By Rebecca Cook
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Three lovers who stalk and kill the immortals that drift through South Florida (tourists are a moveable feast, after all) are living a simple life of leisure- until one of them is nearly killed by a woman who is a new kind of lethal. When Ring Hardigan isn't making sandwiches for, and with, his two partners, Waleska and Risa (they're cool like that), he's got a busy schedule doing the dirty work of sending immortals to the ever after.

    crazybatcow says: "No bull here: well written urban fantasy"
    "No bull here: well written urban fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. It seemed from the write up that it would have a very heavy supernatural bend to it. It does, but it doesn't at the same time. Hard to explain, but the world, the characters, and their motivations and behaviours do not feel supernatural, even if their existence is (this is a good thing, by the way). The "bad guys" are varied and supernatural in nature, but their actions are realistic, and how they are dealt with is believable.

    The background/history of the characters and the world and how they got to where they are was really well-doled out/paced. We aren't subjected to lectures or long histories, but little snapshots of the past just in time to stretch out some suspense or fill a gap. There is a fairly consistent sense of humour throughout which actually comes across quite well as it fleshes out the main character, and certainly makes him more likeable.

    There is an oddly placed fairly detailed erotic scene as we get close to the end of the novel. Not sure why this scene was so far into the story, nor why it was so detailed when other similar scenes were more cursory in nature. It was a well-done scene, just so much more detailed than other scenes that it felt more like it was fulfilling a specific requirement for X pages of erotica, instead of progressing the story.

    I think the story ended at a logical point, but it isn't really resolved... and it doesn't feel like justice was properly served (but, then again, there wasn't a huge 'wrong' to be righted here, just a general sense that immortals are bad and should be removed). It seems clear that there are more books planned for this series; I would certainly read them.

    When I first started the book, I thought the choice of a female narrator was a bit odd since the main character is male. That being said, however, she does an excellent job, and you can tell each of the characters apart easily; no exaggeration... she really does a terrific job, but it was still a bit odd when the narrator made a reference to being male (particularly in reference to sexual activities).

    There are some sex scenes, but they are not particularly graphic. There is some non-graphic violence and I don't recall any foul language.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The First Bird, Episode 3

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Greig Beck
    • Narrated By Sean Mangan
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (48)

    Matt Kearns and the remnants of the scientific team return to a ravaged America. Modern medicine has failed to halt the spread of the flesh-consuming parasite, and humans have been forced to hide, even from one another. The infected roam the cities and suburbs of a ruined nation. But the devastating effects on human physiology are only the beginning. Something has been let loose, something that the team were not prepared for - human nature itself.

    Kim Venatries says: "One Cliche Too Many; But Still a Good Listen"
    "I wouldn't start book 1 knowing how bad 3 is..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This warning is probably too late but... if you haven't yet started this series (it was released in 3 parts), DON'T!!! Save your time and money.

    Episode one was the only installment even worth the paper it was printed on - and its plot just stopped mid-scene. Book two was full of abnormally (and inconsistently) behaving characters and had a distinct Jurassic Park feel to it. This book - Episode 3 - is bad. Plain and simple.

    The biggest issue with Episode 3 is that the characters do not behave normally, at all. For example: they are told, specifically and directly, that if they do X, then people will die... so, what happens?? they go ahead and DO X. Then (yes, seriously) in the NEXT scene, after two people died from their first stupid ignoring of instructions, they DO IT AGAIN.... and guess what... more people die!!! wow... what a surprise... If you have the only potential cure for humankind, are you going to go wading through hordes of infected, 30 minutes after you just lost two of your party to the infected? No... I didn't think so...

    That, and the 'bad guy' (added to the story at the last minute) was ridiculous and gave the book the same feel as some very trashy low-brow zombie novels out there.

    Anything redeeming in this book??? hmmm... the epilogue... was probably the only part worth reading after the first half of the first episode. And no, I am not exaggerating. The underlying story might have been half decent, if only the characters didn't behave like imbeciles.

    It is not graphic or gory and there is no sex. The narration is good.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Dreaming Void: Void Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1993)
    Performance
    (1175)
    Story
    (1195)

    AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to over a thousand star systems. It is a culture of rich diversity with a place for everyone. A powerful navy protects it from any hostile species that may lurk among the stars. For Commonwealth citizens, even death has been overcome.

    Ethan M. says: "Solid Hamiltonian Space Opera"
    "Typical Hamilton - a semi-hard sci-fi space opera."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a strong sci-fi/alternative future/fantasy novel. If you have read any of Hamilton's works before, you will find this one has exactly the same style, tone and pacing as his other works... if you didn't like his style, tone or pacing in other books he has written, you won't like this one either.

    For those of you who haven't read Hamilton before - his books are THICK. The science is relatively detailed (but not hard-core), the plot is divided into 'threads' that start off completely unconnected but tie together at the end, and there are a LOT of characters to keep track of. Sometimes this disconnected thread approach might cause you to get lost... and sometimes there is just a bit too much time spent on side-stories (in this case: the alternative sexual/relationship possibilities of the future). But these side stories do fill out the space-opera requirements, and give the reader a fuller sense of the world/reality being built.

    I actually quite liked the 'fantasy' component of the novel. I thought it was, in many ways, more interesting than the 'sci-fi' part since it was a single storyline, not the multi thread line of the 'real' world story. Again, though, all these threads do come together in the end, but you have to get through probably more than half of the book before you can see the potential connections. There is just a smidge of moralizing but it is short and dispersed throughout the story so it doesn't become too annoying.

    I will read the rest of the series, and probably any other books Hamilton comes out with as well. His stories are strong, his characters distinct, and the science/potential is very believable. The only thing that would make his books a bit more enjoyable would be the cutting back of about 100 pages of side-story filler - this would increase the pacing a bit, and I don't think we would miss out on much if we didn't get to hear about what people wear in Hamilton's worlds.

    The narration is very good. There is occasional swearing, but there is no gore or graphic sex (though there is an exploration of mature alternative sexual activities). Oh, and keep in mind it is a trilogy so the story isn't wrapped up here; the cliffhanger is somewhat mild, but you will probably have to get the next book in the series if you like full resolutions.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Molly Harper
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2753)
    Performance
    (2512)
    Story
    (2498)

    Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow's only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she'd like. Running all their daylight errands - from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg - gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship - and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.

    Ronda says: "Once again this should have disclaimers"
    "Cute, light romance with a tiny mystery/plot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know why so many people say this book is funny - I didn't find it to be particularly funny (and yes I do have a sense of humour). I will admit, however, that it is light and fluffy, so maybe that is what makes it funny? dunno... but there certainly weren't any moments that made me giggle, nor did I notice any moments where I thought the author was aiming for funny and missed...

    It is a fast read, and it's not very deep, but you wouldn't be reading Harper for a deep novel anyway, would you. The mystery is just entertaining enough that you kinda wonder who the bad guy is, but mostly the story is about the main character's personal life/growth so the bad guy - and the entire 'suspense' thread - is mostly irrelevant.

    I almost felt there was a problem with the time-component of the story. The vampire is staying for one week, then two, but we're told 'several' days pass a couple times, so I am not sure if they fell in love in 3 days, or in 9. Either way, it is a rapid about face for an ancient vampire. But, to be fair, these books assume 'true love' will happen nearly immediately - that is one of the reasons people buy them, for the romance (or soft-porn as the case may be).

    In this case, there are no graphic details (but they do have a bit of semi-detailed sex), and it is not gory. Really, it is a lighthearted vampire romance novel with a tiny bit of non-romantic suspense to it. I would read more by Harper, but only if I wanted some brain-fluff. The narration is very good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The First Bird, Episode 2

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Greig Beck
    • Narrated By Sean Mangan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (45)

    The South American Boreal: one of the last truly unexplored jungles on our planet. In its dark heart is an ancient crater basin, sealed in by a living cage, making it a time capsule for an ancient, deadly ecosystem. Matt Kearns, Carla Nero and a team of scientist explorers have found their way in. In the crater's sunken interior are creatures from a primordial nightmare. Dangers lurk in every treetop, under every rock or loom monstrously over them. It is a place where mankind is out of time.

    crazybatcow says: "Jurassic Park, minus the tension..."
    "Jurassic Park, minus the tension..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked the first one enough that I bought this one, even though I was a bit annoyed at the way the first one ended (it was stopped mid-scene, with no form of resolution for the story, as if book one and book two were one book chopped in half).

    This one does manage to resolve its own story (i.e. the story that this book is about is ended), but the overarching storyline started in book one is carried on to book three. I am okay with this because I expect there to be some loose ends in the middle book of a series and the resolution of this book's story was satisfactory (I don't mean, in any sense, that this is a good story, it is just a resolved one).

    And that brings me to the story itself. This is Jurassic Park. Almost exactly - 'cept without the excitement or good writing.

    The characters are not fully rational (sometimes they act in ways that no normal person would in the same circumstances), and they are not consistent in how they behave (they behave one way at the start of the story but at the end they act in ways completely contrary to how they began).

    As an action adventure it was barely okay... too reminscent of other jungle adventure gone awry stories, wishy-washy characterization, and no suspense or significant development of the main story line of the trilogy.

    I had already bought the 3rd book in the series (and you kinda have to if you want to know what happened with the parasite), but if I had known how the story was going to progress (or not as in this case), I would not have started this series in the first place. The narration is good, but... the story is so lame that even good narration couldn't infuse any excitement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cloud Roads

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Martha Wells
    • Narrated By Christopher Kipiniak
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (450)
    Performance
    (392)
    Story
    (391)

    Moon has spent his life hiding what he is - a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community.

    Joe says: "Interesting read"
    "Interesting fantasy world with a YA feel."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Pretty straight forward non-gory, non-noir fantasy novel. It isn't necessarily written for young adults, but it could be read by them as it is pretty tame (no foul language, no graphic anything).

    There is definitely a moral to the story (being an outsider, definition of family), but it is relatively subtle and didn't make me roll my eyes.

    The race(s) are pretty interesting, and very well created. It seemed believable that such a world of creatures could exist and the dynamics between the species also made sense. Even the "bad guys" were a logical extension of the world's species, and their behavior was believable.

    I quite enjoyed the story, even though it was a bit slower-paced - and lot less dark - than my usual fare. There is a lot of world and character building and the only part of this that was a bit on the weak side was the 'romantic' component(s). This romance was required by the story, but the angst between the love interests was told, not shown, and had little tension or "oh no" sense to it.

    The narration was good and I did buy the next in the series from Audible.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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