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Troy

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
188
REVIEWS
133
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
36
HELPFUL VOTES
261

  • Angelfall: Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Susan Ee
    • Narrated By Caitlin Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (788)
    Performance
    (728)
    Story
    (731)

    It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her 17-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel. Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival.

    Brooke says: "Creep-tastic!"
    "Nothing Special, But Not Sappy Either"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not entirely sure why I was drawn to this book. As much as I'm fascinated by angels, most fiction about them tends to be fairly limited. Many have remarked they are this generation's vampire, and that's true to a certain extent. Like zombies and vampires, there are just too many of the same stories, many of them trying desperately to stand out by being different, and failing precisely because these beings aren't supposed to be different from what they're meant to be.

    With this in mind, I went through this story anyway. The first 2/3 or so is pretty basic. The "rules" of angelkind are honored, which is a plus for me. It means that nephalim are the big warning about what happens if there's an angelic romance with a human, and it means the characters in the story are abhorred by this idea. Also, they have reason enough not to trust one another, so it makes for a far more believable story. There's very little about this story that's particularly earth-shattering. If you're familiar with the Christopher Walken Prophecy movies, you'll be right at home here.

    There are two standout moments for me. The first is the (no pun intended) that this whole thing is kicked off when Gabriel comes to earth and is shot by the fearful humans. I've never seen this approach before, and I totally buy it. It's something we monkeys would do. The second is the climax when we find out what the angels are doing with the humans they capture. I think this is supposed to be a nod to Clive Barker's rather disturbing prose style and twisted imagination. Most can't pull it off, and while the author is outclassed by this example (who isn't, let's be honest), she is successful enough to make you squirm with her descriptions. Kudos on that.

    On the whole, I'm not drawn in enough to want the rest of the series right now, but this was a fun read all the same. I may eventually come back to it, but I'm not that invested. That's probably because I could care less about post-apocalyptic stories, although to be fair, this story works better precisely because of that setup. The characters are solid enough to be believable, though we could see the archangel Raphael a mile away the moment the name was mentioned, so there wasn't much of a reveal there. I love the concept of the insane mother fighting her own inner demons in the middle of all this. I feel like there were some missed opportunities here as well, and some inadequate explanations about a great many things. Maybe that's left for the sequels? Time will tell.

    One point of mention... this is a self-published title, and that rarely works out this well. This writer understands something about editing, story pacing, and such, and has paid attention to examples she's studied and enjoyed. You just don't see that much. So, more kudos. On the whole, far better than expected from angelic YA fiction, but still not as powerful as the potential of the genre could be. It's early in the series, so we'll see what happens.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Classical Music 101

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Fred Plotkin
    • Narrated By Fred Plotkin
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    In clear and entertaining prose, Plotkin explores a thousand years of music, introduces listeners to more than 100 great works, and profiles in depth many significant composers, including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Dvoxak, and Mahler. He describes all the musical instruments in the orchestra, defines major musical terms, and makes music theory comprehensible for the uninitiated. There are also conversations with important musicians who offer fascinating insights about their art.

    Kenneth says: "Musical lecture"
    "Invaluable Insight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As with Plotkin's Opera 101 (which I reviewed earlier), this book is an invaluable insight into this subject matter. As with Opera 101, it's clear from the beginning that Plotkin loves classical music, and his objective is to help you to love it too. His book is designed as a launch pad for discovery, not a textbook of facts. Plotkin is an accredited and acknowledged expert in the field, and while it's expected for his audience to keep up with him, he does his best to bring his expertise to a level where general audiences can do just that. Again, as with Opera 101, the author assumes that the audience has had some exposure to the music and wants to catapult beyond the beginner level to a realm of true appreciation. This book covers history, anecdotal tales, musical theory, analysis, and even an overview of the various instruments in the orchestra. For the true novice, there is a section that outlines the expectations of attending a concert performance.

    Many other reviews I've seen lamented that the music itself wasn't a part of this audiobook, and while that's a hindrance, such a thing would likely have been a licensing nightmare as many of the performances are not in the public domain. He does outline, however, exactly which performances he's referencing, and suggests that if you can't find them at a library (or perhaps online these days), then other recordings will suffice in most cases.

    If there is a true negative to be found in this book, it's the author's own performance. He reads as though he's not reading his own work, and the recording is semi-professional at best. What I mean by that is that every time he takes a breath or smacks his lips, you hear it. There's no post-production to cover up that distraction. Even so, the breadth of his knowledge that's offered here more than makes up for it in my humble opinion, and he does it without talking down to you. If you engage the material, there's no reason this book shouldn't open up a new level of appreciation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, and others
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Hot on the heels of the New York Times bestseller William Shakespeare's Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare's The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. These two plays offer essential listening for all ages.

    Troy says: "Liked the first one? You'll love the sequel."
    "Liked the first one? You'll love the sequel."
    Overall
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    I had a blast with Verily, A New Hope, and multiple listens gave me something new to appreciate in that venerable old tale. I'm guessing you did too, otherwise why would you be seeking this one out? The Empire Striketh Back proves to hit the same marks. On the surface, it's just fun. The actors clearly had as much fun performing it as I did listening. Combine that with the John Williams music and the classic sound effects, it's hard not to love this. Where else will you hear dialogue for a wampa, a space slug, and an AT-AT walker?

    As with the original, I want very much to see this performed on a stage in an all-out production. A work like this just demands the full treatment.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Benny Lewis
    • Narrated By Benny Lewis
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Benny Lewis is the creator of www.fluentin3months.com, the largest language-learning blog in the world. His proven techniques break down language learning myths and replace them with practical "language hacks" that take advantage of the skills we already possess. Fluent in 3 Months provides everything you need to make learning a new language fast, intuitive, and fun.

    Troy says: "Great Tips, But Still Comes Down to "Do the Work""
    "Great Tips, But Still Comes Down to "Do the Work""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been following "Benny the Irish Polyglot" at his blog for a few months now, and this book is essentially all of his great hints and tips in one place, put together so you don't have to hunt for them. He's living proof that learning to speak multiple languages CAN happen, but he'll also tell you that fluency in 3 months requires 3 or more hours per day. If you don't need "mastery" or don't have that kind of time commitment, a slower pace will still get you where you're looking to be with dedication in the time frame you do have. If nothing else, dispelling the myths, addressing concerns, and providing a positive platform for beginners are what Benny does best. That's what this book is all about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Victor L. Wooten
    • Narrated By Victor L. Wooten
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (88)

    "'Boy, do I have a lot to learn!'" Anyone who's ever picked up a musical instrument of any kind - from the first caveman banging rocks to that little kid at the guitar shop - has thought that. I know I did. I'd been trying for years to break in to the music scene, to show everyone my chops, to make my mark. And I was good. But I wasn't great. I knew that there was something wrong. Then the teacher showed up...."

    Tomas says: "Surprise like no other!"
    "Deeply Profound"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is an old saying, "When the student is ready, the master will appear." That's how this book is setup, with the author's teacher showing up to teach a professional bass player how to play music, and that's how this book found its way to me. It was the right message at the right time, and there is simply not enough I can say about it that will sing its praises properly.

    There are a great many self-help books out there, just as there are a great many musical instruction books and books on fundamental spirituality. This book is all three at once - a masterpiece in its own right - and so much more. Sometimes for a message that's always been with us to be heard properly is for it to be presented in a new way, providing that shift in focus that clicks everything into place. Being musically inclined, that's precisely what this audiobook did for me.

    As a narrator, Wooten is superb. He tells the story in such a way that we are learning right along with him at the feet of a teacher who will show us "nothing." Indeed, that's the whole message of the story, that we already know everything we need to know. From another person, this message might seem unbelievable or completely trite, but Wooten's tale makes you believe it. If I have one regret about this book, it's that it sat in my wish list for far too long... but then, perhaps I wasn't ready for it until now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (96)

    From tales of chivalrous knights to the barbarity of trial by ordeal, no era has been a greater source of awe, horror, and wonder than the Middle Ages. In handsomely crafted prose and with the grace and authority of his extraordinary gift for narrative history, William Manchester leads us from a civilization tottering on the brink of collapse to the grandeur of its rebirth, the Renaissance.

    Wallen says: "Ruined by the narrator"
    "An Excellent Overview"
    Overall
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    Story

    As far as overviews of the Middle Ages go, I would rank this book in my top 3. History is so much more than names and dates; it's cause and effect, action and reaction spurred by motivation and belief systems. The religious and geopolitical minefield of the Medieval era can be incredibly difficult to navigate. Where some overviews are far too simple to be of any use, and others are far too detailed to be effective as overviews, this book serves that perfect middle ground for both beginners and scholars alike. It's an excellent read that serves to pull all lines of thinking together and highlights some of the giants of the age in the process.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Le Morte D'Arthur

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Sir Thomas Malory
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (43)

    This monumental work made the Arthurian cycle available for the first time in English. Arthur is conceived and taken away in secret, returning as a young man to claim the throne by pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. In retelling the story of Arthur's rule of Britain, Malory intertwines the romances of Guinevere and Launcelot, Tristram and Isolde, and Launcelot and Elaine. Sir Galahad's appearance at Camelot begins the quest for the Holy Grail.

    Book Addict says: "Wonderful story and reading."
    "Not Quite as I Remembered"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like so many, I grew up reading the tales of Arthur, and though it's been years since I've read this particular version of it, it's always stood out to me as one of the best versions. Let it be said that it's still a fantastic version, but it's nowhere near as straightforward as I remember it.

    The knights and their lineages are given rapidly (it's good to have Wiki or some other resource with you), and many of the story points are told out of order or given through prophecy. I realize that spoilers are a bit of a non-issue for a story like this, but for a first-timer, it's not the most friendly version. Then again, they do kind of give you all the spoilers in the book's description, don't they? Even so, it doesn't detract from the magic of the tales.

    This particular reading... skip it. Unless you're already predisposed as liking Frederick Davidson's narrating style, let this be a warning. Like so many other reviewers, I find his voice to be ok, but his tone and presentation make him come across like a British Tommy Lee Jones: bored, annoyed, and otherwise disgusted with the material. I have an abridged version on cassette narrated by Derek Jacobi that I bought some 20+ years ago, and it's a far, far superior reading. I'd love to find an unabridged version by him or someone with equal enthusiasm for the material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hitler's Holy Relics

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Sidney Kirkpatrick
    • Narrated By Charles Stransky
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (38)

    Had Hitler succeeded in conquering Europe, he would have crowned himself Holy Roman Emperor. The Nazis had in their possession priceless artifacts that would give Hitler legitimacy in his subjects' eyes: the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire including the Spear of Destiny, alleged to have pierced Christ's side at the Crucifixion. Looted from the royal treasury in Vienna, Austria, the Crown Jewels were hidden in a secret bunker deep beneath Nrnberg castle, known to few.

    Diane says: "Spellbinding!!"
    "Recovering Art"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Blame Indiana Jones, but I have a fascination with art and artifacts. That's where this book comes in. This one recounts the recovery of treasures in the wake of the German surrender in 1945, including the reasons why the team was given only 3 weeks to do so, and some background on the stories behind the artifacts. By necessity, the author also discusses the reasons why these treasures were taken in the first place, which put in the context of history makes for interesting reading.

    The author has made the Herculean decision of trying to cover this topic from as many directions as possible in an extremely limited time, and there is plenty of personal speculation to go along with massive info dump. Such will inevitably be the nature of the beast when dealing with subject matter of this sort. In spite of this, the narrative somehow manages to not become the tangled train wreck in could potentially be. It's not a straight line, but the meandering does have points to make if the reader can stay on the same page with what the author is trying to put forth. Most books of this kind are more than an little "out there," and this one stays reigned in and more scholarly by comparison. For those who like their history in one place, even if it's not nice and tidy, this one is worth the read for anyone so inclined towards the topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Medieval Siege and Siegecraft

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Geoffrey Hindley
    • Narrated By Tim Bruce
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Here Geoffrey Hindley serves us the history of military sieges from every angle, tracing the development of fortifications and equipment (offensive and defensive), penning vivid portraits of the weapons involved, exploring the psychology of laying siege, and even describing the role played by women and camp followers in battle. He shows siege tactics in action through real-life case studies of famous sieges that changed the course of history in medieval Europe and the Holy Land.

    Troy says: "Plenty of Detail for a Short Book"
    "Plenty of Detail for a Short Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When you read the longer history tomes, be they about a specific period or maybe a larger overview, the minutae of what goes into siege warefare is usually glossed over with broad strokes. This book is for all of you armchair historians and fantasy gamers out there who want details. This book talks about everything from the weapons and baggage train to the roles of women and the digging of underground tunnels. The more you know about the general history and politics of a given era, the more you'll appreciate the details, but ultimately it's really not necessary as those broad strokes are provided as a reverse of most other history books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Name of the Wind: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Patrick Rothfuss
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10193)
    Performance
    (7969)
    Story
    (8067)

    This is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

    Joanna says: "Wow!"
    "Character Autobiography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The setup for this book is a good one. Discovered in the act of leading a "normal" life, the legendary Kvothe is coaxed into telling his complete story to a Chronicler. What follows is one of the most detailed fictional autobiographies I've ever had the pleasure to read.

    I've read some opposing reviews on this, which stands to reason as the level of minutae will either make or break the story for most readers. To me, that's what makes this story that much more real. Kvothe and his world feel alive. The storytelling is as compelling as anything you'd find from Sanderson or other contemporaries without dipping into the gore and perversity found in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. At least, not yet. Book 2 is still out there, and this story has planted its seeds of darkness and despair. Likewise, the characters work for the right reasons. Many of them are very much the stenciled template archetypes as so many fantasy characters are, but the way they're written makes you forget that very quickly. The world around them is built in five senses, base needs, and realistic motivations. They interact with that world and each other in the same way.

    As a surprise, when Rothfuss ventures into the poetic, it's as rich as Tolkien, which is something I rarely see. Most prose writers don't feel they can write poetry, so they don't try, but for Kvothe's beginnings as a bard in a nomadic troupe, it's not only believable, it's necessary. It's part of what gives the world the feeling of depth and history, through culture. I don't know if Rothfuss studied theater and music, but based on what I'm reading, I'd be surprised if he didn't. If he didn't, he certainly knows people who did. Either way, you can't fake the experience he writes when it comes to the musical performances. There's a line from Mr. Holland's Opus where he instructs his student to "play the sunset." Rothfuss is able to describe that experience in a way that will make you feel it. For me, this is what truly makes this novel a literary treasure. If he can do that, imagine what happens when the pendulum swings the other way into the realm of dread.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Codex Born: Magic ex Libris, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jim C. Hines
    • Narrated By David DeVries
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (52)

    Five hundred years ago, Johannes Gutenberg discovered the art of libriomancy, allowing him to reach into books to create things from their pages. Libriomancer Isaac Vainio is part of Die Zwelf Portenre, better known as the Porters, the organization founded by Gutenberg to protect the world from magical threats. Isaac is called in to investigate the killing of a wendigo, along with Porter psychiatrist Nidhi Shah and their dryad bodyguard and lover, Lena Greenwood. But their plan could unleash a far darker evil....

    Troy says: "Character Expansion and More of the Original's Fun"
    "Character Expansion and More of the Original's Fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When Hines wrote this sequel, I think he understood that the basic fun of the first one wouldn't be enough to sustain more. As any quality sequel should do, this one opens the world a bit more, asking questions not only about the nature of libriomancy as introduced in the first book, but also about the characters. Lena's character is the focal point as our primary characters are expanded upon, and the end result makes this story more satisfying. Even so, the basic fun that made the first one work is still here, and it's safe to say that if you liked the first, you'll like this one as well. I'm looking forward to seeing where the next book takes us.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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