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CryptoSenex

CENTREVILLE, VA, United States | Member Since 2008

18
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 7 reviews
  • 32 ratings
  • 200 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
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  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (2099)
    Performance
    (1105)
    Story
    (1112)

    "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem.

    Katelyn says: "One word - Awesome!"
    "Occasional wit doesn't conceal dry rot"
    Overall

    Bits of wit throughout, and a nice construction of a new story on the frame of the classic. I admire the concept. I just wish it had been executed better.

    The novel lost me when the heroine rips open the heart of a noblewoman's ninja retainer and eats it. Completely fractured my suspension of disbelief. (if you think about a novel in which zombies are lured into traps by cauliflower, my suspension of disbelief must have been pretty elastic to start!)

    Too many elements executed without sufficient subtlety.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Blood of Innocents: The Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Mitchell Hogan
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (124)
    Story
    (126)

    Anasoma, jewel of the Mahruse Empire, has fallen. As Caldan and his companions flee the city, horrors from the time of the Shattering begin to close in. With Miranda's mind broken by forbidden sorcery, Caldan is forced to disobey the most sacrosanct laws of the Protectors if he is to have any chance of healing her. But when one of the emperor's warlocks arrives to take control of him, he begins to suspect his burgeoning powers may be more of a curse than a blessing.

    moniakatarina villasenor says: "Story continues better than ever!"
    "One dimensional"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the story had followed the first chapter of the first book, when the characters were interesting. The protagonist of this novel just keeps making foolish choices and never really being punished for them. It is like he lives in a paranoid delusion but the rest of the universe is patronizing him. I couldn't finish the book because I no longer believed in any of the characters.

    The world and characters early in the first book were intriguing,and I wanted to see how they turned out. But as the second book went on, I found myself having to bribe myself to listen and I finally gave up.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Oliver Wyman?

    Yes; solid but unobtrusive voicework.


    What character would you cut from Blood of Innocents?

    The protagonist; if were omitted, then perhaps we could have a rational plot.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge
    • Narrated By Chris Sorensen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (24)

    From the best-selling authors of The Right Nation, a visionary argument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than the fourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state. Dysfunctional government: It' s become a cliché, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is ever going to change. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us, that is a seriously limited view of things. In fact, there have been three great revolutions in government in the history of the modern world.

    Amazon Customer says: "Optimistic meditations on the future"
    "Optimistic meditations on the future"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Fourth Revolution?

    Nice survey of history with unusual insights into some of the traditional thinkers. Good survey of the status quo, how we got here and a path forward. Wide ranging analysis of modern Liberal Democracy.


    What didn’t you like about Chris Sorensen’s performance?

    Sing song; every sentence drops on the end, every sentence exteeeennnnds the Finnnnaalll wooordss. Comes off very patronizing and distracts from interesting material.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The variety of successful alternatives to the bloatocracy. Swedish and German efforts to build a sustainable governance structure on a liberal democratic base.


    Any additional comments?

    The authors describe some paths forward. I think that those paths are a trifle pollyanna. I agree that if we are to succeed we must find ways to solve this problem, but I think the authors ignore the real obstacles. On the other hand, the authors have done far more research than I, so it is worth continuing the dialogue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The History of Money

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (267)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (161)

    From primitive man's cowrie shells to the electronic cash card, from the markets of Timbuktu to the New York Stock Exchange, The History of Money explores how money and the myriad forms of exchange have affected humanity, and how they will continue to shape all aspects of our lives--economic, political, and personal.

    PHIL says: "Wide, deep, thoughtful, colorful"
    "About half useful."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Jack Weatherford and/or Victor Bevine?

    No. I felt like I was reading entertainment and/or polemic, not history. The first chapter was perplexing; then there was about half a book that was good. But suddenty around the time of Breton Woods, the book went off the rails into longwinded diatribes against fiat money. At that point I started to wonder why I was listening. The examples became longer and more repetitive, and the facts became thinner and thinner.

    The author continuously confuses the artifact of money with the transactions that are enabled from money, and asserts that modern money will vanish, although ancient barter systems will survive the evolution to new money. He ignores the role of China (in fact he seems to treat the "history of money" as distinct from the history of economics). He has a long discussion of the rise of loyalty money (airline miles, loyalty points, etc.), but asserts that private senioriage will begin in the 21st century - ignoring the fact that loyalty money is private senioriage. He praises Breton Woods management of exchange rates as the only rational course, but condemns federal reserve management of monetary value as deceptive and nearly criminal.

    Pity is that these doubts are causing me to question the parts of the book that sounded good. How much trust can I place in his discussion of Roman or Renaissance economics once he has revealed that he's willing to substitute politics for history?


    Has The History of Money turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    What didn’t you like about Victor Bevine’s performance?

    IF Mr. Bevine was accurately conveying Mr. Weatherford's tone, then my only complaint is that he spoke too slowly. If however the contempt came from Mr. Bevine, rather than from Mr. Weatherford's text, then he deserves more criticism.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes - there were some very useful examples between Lydia and Breton Woods. So long as the book sticks to history and avoids politics, it is decent.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Rook: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Daniel O'Malley
    • Narrated By Susan Duerden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2048)
    Performance
    (1859)
    Story
    (1860)

    Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization - and this person wants her dead.

    Ethan M. says: "Harry Dresden meets English bureaucracy"
    "Splendid performance conceals an adequate book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ms. Duerden is the best thing about this book; every character has a distinctive voice, and I can almost pick out on a map of Great Britain where that character was born & educated. Several times I was so fascinated by the accent that I had to skip back to listen to what they were saying. Beyond the regional accents, the voice work made the minor characters individuals.

    The underlying text is adequate. I can't quite agree with those who have compared this to Stross' Laundry series or others. Stross manages to convey that the impersonal forces of bureaucracy and institution are just as dreadful as horrors from beyond space, and for some of the same reasons - both are beyond our comprehension, neither have any mercy or interest in our welfare, and the best we can hope for is to remain invisible to either. Mr. O'Malley's book doesn't quite reach that standard. The bureaucracy of the Chequy reminds me more of a squabbling set of middle school children, and the protagonist all too often obtains victory by being the only adult in the room. There are some very good characterizations, I just wish there were more of them, and they were invested more deeply. I wish that the plot emerged more fully from the motivation and understanding of the characters - it feels like the characters are floating on a sea of plot.

    If the characters are slightly shallow, the world is correspondingly rich. Mr. O'Malley is at his best when building a creative original world based on historical myth and legend. Too many other authors of modern urban fantasy are derivative, recycling pop culture over and over until it bears no more resemblance to mythology than processed cheese food product does to anything. (I hesitate to put Mr. O'Malley in the category of Urban Fantasy, because "Urban Fantasy" now sees to require a plot of "Heartbreakingly beautiful butt kicking heroine can't choose between the good guy and the bad guy who both love her." - a trope which I am overjoyed to say is missing from Mr. O'Malley's work.)

    The plotting was solid, but somewhat obscured by the style of the work. One of the other reviewers commented that the device of "letters to my future self" worked in the beginning of the book, but interfered with the middle/end. I'd have to reluctantly agree; I thought it was a clever stylistic device, but about midway through, when I was getting involved in the plot, something went wrong. I think if I hadn't been distracted, I would have enjoyed the whole book more. The plot is well constructed and complex. I had all the information the main character had (with one exception), and nobody was making progress by behaving stupidly (again with one exception, but that character had a very solid reason to behave stupidly; reasoned, considered foresight would have been out of character for that individual). There were multiple layers, with multiple levels of revelation after the big reveal.

    Ultimately I don't think I'd read/listen to the next book in the series (if there were one), but I might very well try again if Mr. O'Malley wrote something different.

    And I will search for more works read by Ms. Duerden.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Her Royal Spyness: A Royal Spyness Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (4866)
    Performance
    (4185)
    Story
    (4161)

    Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932. So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg... She's gate-crashed a wedding... She's making money by secretly cleaning houses... And she's been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.

    Alice says: "Happy addition to a difficult genre"
    "Excellent performance covers for a mediocre story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The voice acting on this was fantastic; every character has a distinct and individual voice, and the accents are spot on for the class or origin (as far as I can tell).

    The story however contains some fairly serious flaws. I despise stories where the protagonist makes progress only because the antagonist is dumber than a box of rocks. In this case the story makes progress largely because the protagonist makes error after error.
    When the main character discovers a dead body, she writes an incriminating note establishing her presence at the scene, then leaves the house to create an alibi that is thinner than onionskin paper.

    The book is driven too much by the romantic tropes (in which the only thing that matters to the progress of the novel is the obstacles to our hero's eventual union with the object of her affection) and not enough of the mystery tropes (in which clues, evidence and deduction carry the story). Neither the protagonist nor the antagonist act rationally, which leads to an incoherent and unbelievable mystery. If I'd know it was a romance novel, I'd have chosen something else.

    I disliked the plotting, but the writing was good - the dialogue mostly comes off very well, and when the characters motivations aren't hijacked in the service of a commonplace romance plot, the characters are engaging and vivid. I'm particularly fond of the heroine's confidant and old school chum, and of Her Majesty. And the voice performance redeemed quite a few of the rough spots.

    This book was a bad choice for me, but could be a good choice for you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Engines: A Marla Mason Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By T. A. Pratt
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy, T. A. Pratt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (287)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (149)

    Sorcerer Marla Mason, small-time guardian of the city of Felport, has a big problem. A rival is preparing a powerful spell that could end Marla's life - and, even worse, wreck her city. Marla's only chance of survival is to boost her powers with the Cornerstone, a magical artifact hidden somewhere in San Francisco. But when she arrives there, Marla finds that the quest isn't going to be quite as cut-and-dried as she expected...

    Starr says: "The Title Explains It All"
    "Ho Hum"
    Overall

    Yet another entry in the "I have power that your mortal minds cannot conceive, but I'll do essentially nothing throughout the book" collection.

    I simply can't identify with a protagonist who has no flaws, has awesome power (but does nothing with it). She's so good at everything that she can carve her initials into a man's buttocks with a bullwhip. She's immortal. She's got awesome and dangerous artifacts. How do I connect with that character? She's saving the world from certain doom. How do I connect with that character? Why do I care what happens to her?

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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