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I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

ratings
243
REVIEWS
167
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
50
HELPFUL VOTES
325

  • Pavane

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Keith Roberts
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (270)
    Performance
    (241)
    Story
    (242)

    Considered Keith Roberts' masterwork, this novel consists of linked short stories (six measures and a coda) of a 20th century in which the Roman Catholic Church controls the Western world, and has done so since Queen Elizabeth of England was assassinated in 1588. The Protestant Reformation never happened, and the world is kept in a Dark Age of steam-power transportation, with no allowance for electrical power, by a tyrannical Rome.

    Betty says: "Dense & rich - not a light listen"
    "It's the Characters that Outline the World"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Neil Gaiman Presents, and George R.R. Martin praises it right on the cover. Two powerhouse names like that can't be wrong when they stand in agreement, and it's that very reason I selected this book. These are names I trust.

    This is an older novel and reads like one, but that's certainly no turn-off. What's a bit jarring is the format and presentation. A Pavane is a style of music, and the format was presented in here in literary form as 6 movements and a coda. The basic idea is that this is an alternate history where Queen Elizabeth I was assassinated, and in the mid-20th century, the Roman Catholic Church is still in supreme dominance as a result of having killed the Reformation. It's a steampunk styled world ruled by superstition and fear, but far more authentic feeling than most steampunk. It feels less like fantasy and more like a legitimate alternate reality. Sounds epic, right? Yes and no. You don't get an epic here. What you get is a personal account. Each of the stories contained here link one to the next through the eyes of the characters. Instead of a big worldview epoch, you get a human quality to the world as these people see it - what it's like to live in this world from within a few different walks of life, with the same emotions, strengths, and frailties that people are prone to have in our world as well. It's a master class in characterization. As a result, it burns slow, but it burns evenly, as surely as a higher quality candle. It doesn't illuminate the entire world, but it does illuminate the corners of it we visit through these characters, and it casts larger shadows of suggestion into that world. It definitely leaves you wanting more. More's the pity that there is no more save for what we take from the suggestive nature of asking the two most powerful words in the English language: "What if...?"

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Susan Wise Bauer
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (245)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (144)

    From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the T'ang Dynasty, from the birth of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled.

    Chi-Hung says: "Balanced"
    "The First Half of the Medieval World"
    Overall
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    The sequel to this book is The History of the Renaissance World, which picks up where this one leaves off and stops right before the actual Renaissance. To my mind then, this book is only the first half of the Medieval world story. That irks me, seeing as how the Renaissance story is not actually told in this series. And that's too bad because like the previous volume dealing with the Ancient World, this volume is pretty freaking spectacular in terms of scope and depth. It says something when the worst I can say about a series is that I want more.

    As with the Ancient World volume, this book covers every corner of the globe: every continent (except Antarctica), both hemispheres. Every major culture from the Mayans to the Chinese and everything in between are put on the timeline for comparison and contrast in the course of civilization's rise and fall. It's the kind of eye-opening overview presented in a way that really should be taught in schools, where focus is not on any one given civilization, but rather on parallel development between cultures. As different as the cultures are, the underlying patterns of humanity are revealed, showing that, regardless of where on the map we spring up, we're all capable of some amazing and equally devastating things.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Six Figure Second Income: How to Start and Grow a Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Jonathan Rozek, David Lindahl
    • Narrated By David Lindahl, Jonathan Rozek
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (61)

    Here are proven methods for building an online income stream. Maybe you dream of making money with an online business, but haven’t tried so far because you’d have to quit your current job and enter the risky world of Internet startups. Or because you think you need lots of capital and way too much time. If these reasons sound familiar, Dave Lindahl and Jon Rozek beg to differ.

    Katrina says: "not quite second income"
    "Practical Info for Practical Results"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was almost a 5-star book for me. The authors know their stuff, and the information here is invaluable with regards to generating ideas for an online business and growing it step by step. The title may be exaggeration, but I suspect the end result is largely how many different ideas you implement at once, and how many products you've got going. For the end user on a budget and time deficit, the tips here are usable templates for a variety of endeavors.

    The one and only misstep is the website that the authors constantly refer back to. At frequent points in the book, they tell you to go to the site, type in a given item in the search, and read on for more information on a given topic. I'm guessing the site has had a little time to change a bit because the search really doesn't work that well, which forces you to look around for extended amounts of time or give up in frustration or boredom. And that's why I reduce this by one star, because that's an express point they make of how NOT to do something in the book. I believe in leading by example, and no rewards for bad behavior.

    Having said that, if you go to the site with no particular agenda, it's actually full of equally useful information that, like tips in the book, is quickly implemented and easy to follow. Some of it is common sense, and some of it is subtle word play, but where this book really shines is that the authors demonstrate what the "other guys" are doing wrong, why it's wrong, and how you'll benefit by using the information.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Web 3.0 Startups: Online Marketing Strategies for Launching & Promoting any Business on the Web

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By R. L. Adams
    • Narrated By Smokey Rivers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (28)

    The Internet is evolving at a remarkable pace and it is much more different today than it ever was all thanks to one company: Google. Google has shaped the Web and how we search and find the answers to all of our questions through its organic online search, an online search that has changed enormously in recent years.

    JOB says: "Every Sentences are information packed"
    "Creating an Online Presence"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    With all of the options available in the world of social media, relevancy is the name of the game for anyone looking to promote an online presence. This book is the down and dirty reference guide for anyone looking to make their name on the interwebs. For heavy social media users, much of this content will seem like common sense. But more than telling you what to do, this book also explains why it works and how to maximize your efforts. A print or ebook copy may be helpful for later reference.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Law of Superheroes

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By James Daily, Ryan Davidson
    • Narrated By Eric G. Dove
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Could Superman sue if someone exposed his identity as Clark Kent? Is a life sentence for an immortal like Apocalypse "cruel and unusual punishment"? Is X-ray vision a violation of search and seizure laws? Is the Joker legally insane? And who foots the bill when a hero destroys a skyscraper or two while defending Metropolis? Fear not, gentle listener! The answers to these questions and a multitude more are contained inside this audiobook.

    Elie Harriett says: "Superheroes and the U.S. Constitution!"
    "Legal Pedantry Has Never Been This Much Fun"
    Overall
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    Comic book fans will be well acquainted with the setup for this book. Imagine a discussion over the latest issue of Batman where the Joker is captured and remanded back into custody at Arkham Asylum because he's legally insane, and therefore incapable of standing trial. Or perhaps there is an argument over gift taxes regarding the diamond that Superman shaped and gave to Lana Lang in Superman III. Exactly who's liable for the mission that turned the Fantastic Four into superpowered heroes and the Hulk into a living engine of destruction? Perhaps we should talk about insurance and the swaths of disaster cut by the average superbattle? And just how far can the Mutant Registration Act or similar such laws extend? For non-fans, it sounds ridiculous, and there are even some fans who will claim as much and still get sucked into such discussion, but for the rest of us (and we all know who we are), this book is a veritable gold mine.

    The authors of this book are lawyers and self-described comic book geeks who bring their legal minds to questions that I have heard since the moment I first encountered other fans... and admittedly some of them were asked by me. Geeks love trivia, and in the comics world, the more pedantic the trivia, the better it gets. This book is 100% legal pedantry, wherein many, many, MANY examples of comic book conduct crosses into the real world. Dare I say it, this might be the most awesome way to learn about the U.S. legal system. Stuff like this is what makes geeks seem smart when they unleash their newfound knowledge upon their unsuspecting audiences. After all, knowledge is power, and with great power comes great responsibility (yes, I had to say it) to crush the ego of that one unrelenting know-it-all that every fan knows. Incidentally, if you don't instantly know who that is in your group... it's probably you.

    I won't say that this book is all-encompassing, but I think anyone would be hard-pressed to figure out what might have been left out. Go for it, my fellow geeks, and get back to me on this one. I'll also say that there are a couple of points where I'm wondering if the authors actually read the comic they reference because, well, I'm a geek, and I spot these things where the story in question is much beloved. But for the most part, they do a great job, and for those interested in further reading, the actual case reference numbers are there for you to look up.

    The narrator for the audio version does a good job as well, but again, I'm a geek, so I'm going to just call this outright. Ra's al Ghul is not pronounced as it is in the Dark Knight movies. For 30 years before Nolan ever got there, the name has a long A sound and the corresponding punctuation in the comics to prove it. Reference Batman: The Animated series to get it right. Also, other pronunciations such as J'Onn J'Onnz and Xavier are called into question. If you can let these slide without nerd rage, then this narrator will work well for you.

    One last thing I'll point out, because I can. Nearly everyone I talk to in the past couple of decades seems to think that ultra-realism is better than merely having fun when it comes to superhero stories. After this book, you might be rethinking your stance on that. Pretty much every character you can name would be required to go back to the drawing board or spend life behind bars. Yes, even Superman. Maybe not Wonder Woman or Aquaman, assuming they have diplomatic immunity, but probably international wars would be inevitable. Eh, you get the idea. Get this book, and prepare to have your mind blown.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Orson Welles: A Biography

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Barbara Leaming
    • Narrated By Grace Conlin
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    Genius, artist, monstre sacré, Orson Welles had one of the most brilliant careers in show business. Here he confides his most intimate feelings and recollections of his life. With remarkable detail and intimacy, Barbara Leaming reveals the private Welles: from child prodigy and young lion in Dublin and New York, to the succès de scandale of his The War of the Worlds broadcast; from his auspicious directing debut with the legendary Citizen Kane in his 20s to the sabotage of his further directing career.

    Karen says: "Great book; average narration"
    "More Than Just a Biography... a Collaboration"
    Overall
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    This might be the most heartbreaking review I ever write. I discovered the golden age of radio, The War of the Worlds, and The Shadow through Orson Welles. I discovered Welles at the end of his life when I was 12, when he performed the voice of the monster planet Unicron in Transformers: The Movie. It's not Citizen Kane, and it would never be anything remotely close. I get that, but that's how I came to appreciate one of the greatest geniuses the entertainment world has ever known. My love of radio happened because of this man. This man changed my life and expanded my world.

    This biography is truly something special because it has something that other biographies don't have: Welles himself. Author Barbara Learning was able to contact and collaborate with Welles on this biography through means that typifies Welles' life story, and he gave her free reign and resources because he understood that there is Welles the man, Welles the legend, and his own memory, none of which were in alignment. He was curious to learn about all three aspects. More insightful than the story of Welles' life are the inserted dialogues between Welles and Learning, which adds both gravitas and that personal flourish that makes all the difference. Welles was an extraordinary man by any measure, and his life was as equally bizarre.

    On a personal note... the epilogue shattered my childhood. After going through the highs and lows, after getting the personal reminiscences from greatness to virtual unemployment, the hardest part was hearing him refer to my first experience with him as "that horrible little project about Japanese robots that transform into vehicles and such" and how at least it'll help him to buy groceries or something. It was one of the last things he performed before he passed, and he didn't live long enough to see it released. I knew all along he wasn't pleased with it, and I get it, I really do. I can see how a man of Welles' star caliber might think that a string of voiceovers in commercials and cartoons would be something terrible, even after a long stretch of failure and unemployment. But to have his own commentary on it is rough. I like to think that it's little projects like this that will ultimately lead people of later generations to find his work through the back alleys when they might otherwise not seek out the likes of Citizen Kane. After all, that's how I discovered his work. And just like nobody could have predicted something like that, nobody could have predicted the kind of twists and turns Welles' life would take. I thought I knew about Welles before. This book expanded on so much I only thought I knew. As biographies go, this one's a treasure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wise Man's Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Patrick Rothfuss
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9783)
    Performance
    (8105)
    Story
    (8178)

    "My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep...."

    Joe says: "Excellent, Imaginative, Beautiful, Page Turning!!!"
    "A Fantasy Masterpiece"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    All of the things I said in my review of Book 1, The Name of the Wind, still hold true, only more so. The storytelling is lyrical. The characters are more real than many people you can name. The world building is as good or better than I've seen in any other fantasy setting from contemporary writers. If you've read the first, then you have some idea of what to expect from this one, though I think that if it's possible, this one is bigger and ever more rich in its scope and depth, especially in the second half. Rothfuss has already made a name for himself in the upper echelons of fiction's heavy hitters, and as far as I'm concerned, it's well-deserved.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Constantine Affliction: A Pimm and Skye Adventure, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By T. Aaron Payton
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    It is 1864, and London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction - a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex - has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.

    Amazon Customer says: "Screwball Fun"
    "Screwball Fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I went into this expecting a steampunk mystery built upon a screwball, gender-bending premise. From there, the only assumption I made was that it would either be fun or absurd. I got both, and I got a few surprises along the way, which I won't spoil because that's part of the fun.

    The characters are a blast. Oddly, as much as I like the two lead characters, it's the supporting cast that really makes this story tick. Kudos for the villain on this one. I love a good over-the-top "I'm the hero of this story" monologue in the classic style, and this one doesn't disappoint. As bizarre as the premise is, the story does offer some rather spectacular modern social commentary through the lens of Victorian society and its expectations. Explained through the villain's point of view... wow.

    I'm looking forward to book 2 now. I'm curious to see what the author offers as an encore.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral - and How It Changed the American West

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Jeff Guinn
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (180)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (151)

    For the first time ever, the full story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - not only what really happened but why, and how mythology has led us to completely misinterpret the real history of the frontier. Combining cinematic storytelling with prodigious research, The Last Gunfight upends conventional wisdom about what the West was really like, who the Earps and Doc Holliday really were, and what actually happened in Tombstone on that cold day in October 1881.

    K. says: "Better Than Advertised - An Important story"
    "Incredible Detail and Depth"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As most people know from Hollywood, the infamous shootout took place in the span of a few breathless moments. This book is not just the immediate story of the shootout itself, but rather the entire scope of the story going all the way back to the founding of Tombstone, the formation of the cowtowns and cattle trails, the origins of the Cowboys in the wake of the Texas Rangers, and the bios of each of the personalities involved in this most classic of Old West soap operas. Back room deals, barroom boasts, double-crosses, trial testimonies, politics, logistical data on capabilities of firearms... it's all here and then some, presenting such an incredibly rich tale that you can walk way from this book feeling both entertained and educated. Guinn leaves no stone unturned, no eyewitness account unheard, and no theory unexamined. As a bonus, Stephen Hoye's narration has the same enthusiasm and cadence of the old Lone Ranger series without being overblown, which for an old radio fan like me only adds to grin level. I think the only way to improve on this one might be to give it an old-fashioned musical score.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lady of Devices: A Steampunk Adventure Novel: Magnificent Devices, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Shelley Adina
    • Narrated By Fiona Hardingham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (549)
    Performance
    (503)
    Story
    (505)

    At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire's talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It's not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices...

    Kitty Lagorio says: "Was it really just one book divided into four?"
    "I Needed More From This One"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The setup led me to believe that we were dealing with a strong-willed, steampunk lady with a penchant for building devices and blowing things up. I'm good with the idea. The world needs more heroines like that, and as such I expected to like this one more than I did. I didn't NOT like it, but I didn't really like it as much as I hoped either. I kept waiting for... more. I admit, I got spoiled with Morris and Ballantine's Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels in regards to female leads such as this. But then, those are high-powered steampunk adventure novels, and this one... not really an adventure regardless of what the cover billing says. Not yet, anyway.

    As origin stories go, this one's believable. The credibility is there, with the explanation of her father's death and loss of fortune serving to boot our lady to the next phase of her life. I think the issue is one of pacing. There's plenty of character here, but beyond her father's death and the subsequent fallout, not much happens until about the last hour or so of the audiobook. It's like our heroine is so smart that she knows how to avoid the plot before becoming truly victimized by it. By the time she becomes the Lady of Devices pretty much in a single moment, the story seems pretty much over before it really gets going. And as to her personality, she's likable enough, but it seems like she's sandwiched between the layers. She's too unconventional for the high society life she started in, but she's too conventional to be a streetwise success. I commend her for wanting to take care of the kids and set them on a better path and all, but... well, the kids are part of why I'm not really invested. I would rather she spend more time building gadgets and blowing stuff up (preferably by design rather than by accident) than teaching kids basic arithmetic and how not to steal. There are some good ideas skirting the edges of the story here and there, especially in regards to the tech, which is always mandatory in a steampunk novel, but again... more is better.

    I can only assume, given the short, quickly-read nature of these books, that now that the origin story is out of the way, the path is clear to tell bigger stories. Thing is, I didn't get that idea by the end of it either. The way is clear, but to bigger stories? Not really convinced. Only one way to know for sure, and I may circle back around for book 2 at some point simply because it is a quick read. I'm open to seeing the potential unfold for this one.

    Fiona Hardingham did a wonderful job with the narration, and she's got a beautiful voice, a perfect match for what I'd imagine the Lady of Devices to sound like.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs)
    • By Robert E. Howard
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (699)
    Performance
    (426)
    Story
    (424)

    Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities...there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars.... Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand...to tread the jeweled thrones of the earth under his sandalled feet.

    Flavius says: "Some Great Stories"
    "By Crom, The Classics Live!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When last I read any of the original Conan pulps, I was a kid. Going back through them via this collection, the first of 3 such compilations, has been a real treat. Despite all of the racism of the era and everyone in the stories moving "with the lithe suppleness of a great cat / lion / tiger / panther," it's really difficult to not appreciate the sheer fun and adventure that spawned the sword & sorcery genre. The kind of writing you find in these stories showcase nearly every kind of "bad" writing that's held up by the pros today as examples of what not to do, and yet, Conan has withstood the test of time. Such is the power of good old fashioned, classic storytelling.

    The thing that really caught my attention, which I didn't know enough to think about as a kid, is how much Howard borrowed from existing mythology to shape his world, be it Sumerian, Egyptian, Norse, or the Elder Gods of his contemporary, H.P. Lovecraft. Having read quite a bit of Lovecraft and his followers over the years, it's actually a breath of fresh air to know that somebody in the multiverse stands up to the Elder Gods at all, to say nothing of winning.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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