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  • Cutting for Stone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Abraham Verghese
    • Narrated By Sunil Malhotra
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics - their passion for the same woman - that will tear them apart.

    Mary Lynn Richardson says: "Brilliant story, pitch perfect narration"

    This was one of the best audiobooks I have heard in years, right up there with the best of the best - Angela's Ashes, Memoirs of a Geisha, Lord of the Rings - this is epic. The visceral and cerebral saga of a family, told step by step, with full blooded, gorgeous characters, and accurate medical descriptions. Dr Verghese grew up as an ethnic christian Indian in Ethiopia, and the cultural details seem real and are mesmerizing. History, medicine, religion, love, sex, culture, brotherhood, it is ALL there. I can't possibly say enough good things about this book, and am filled with admiration for Dr Verghese. He describes why medicine is an amazing profession, and why the narrative of life, no matter what the story, is important. Sunil Malhotra does a fantastic job as well.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Ruling Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Robert V. S. Redick
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Thasha's wedding is hours away. It is a wedding that will both fulfill the promise of a mad god's return and see her murdered. Pazel has thwarted the sorcerer who would bring back the god but both sides now face deadlock. Can Thasha be saved? Can the war between two Empires be stopped?

    Lisa says: "Excellent"

    I was a bit worried after the first installment that this trilogy would be another copycat fantasy with limited plot. Happily, I was nicely surprised that this second book surpassed the first, and was a really enjoyable and engrossing listen.

    Michael Page gives one of the best readings I have ever heard (right up there with Rob Inglis and Roy Dotrice) and manages to have distinct, recognizable voices for each and every character. I look forward to the finale!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Strain

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan
    • Narrated By Ron Perlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.

    Flavius says: "Hokey But Fun"
    "Ugh, so awful"

    Imagine a B Movie, filled with campy delights and obvious plot. Then take away the camp. And the delights. Then you have a really pointless, unbelievably poorly written, boring, predictable pile of goo. Break for another zombie/vampire conversion interlude. Ohhh, this one's in the subway... While I realize it's a serial, I hung in just to see if anything would happen in the end, but - NADA. Save your time and money.

    8 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • The Red Wolf Conspiracy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Robert V. S. Redick
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Imperial Merchant Ship Chathrand is the last of her kind. Six hundred years old, the secrets of her construction long forgotten, the massive vessel dwarfs every other sailing craft in the world. It is a palace with sails, a floating outpost of the Empire of Arqual. And it is on its most vital mission yet: to deliver a young woman whose marriage will seal the peace between Arqual and its mortal enemy, the secretive Mzithrin Empire.

    Lindira says: "Very Good"
    "Sooooo good"

    It is, of course, difficult to judge a trilogy by one book, but I really enjoyed this first installment. There is a lot of description of new characters - at least five are introduced at length before the story gets under way, but I found the entire listen engaging and exciting - one of those I couldn't turn off, where I ignored the rest of my life just to listen more. I don't consider myself easy to please, but this book definitely swept me away. Of course, there is lots of magic realism (and lots of plain old magic) but it didn't seem silly. The character "types," while not entirely unrecognizable (small people, "awake" animals, sorcerers), were unique enough, and felt solid and interesting. It is not fair to compare this with George RR Martin (should he EVER bloody finish the Song of Ice and Fire), since his goal is sophisticated psychological character development and intrigue. Mr Redick seems more interested in the creation of a different universe, with more description of possible/unique types of creatures and societies - makes me think more of "Eragon," and Robert Jordan. Though, certainly the rest of the trilogy could prove me wrong on this point.

    The sample on the home page of Michael Page's narration is not a good one - while his basic reading voice is a bit Stiff Old Brit, he does incredible character depictions, as good as I have ever heard. I really can't wait for the next book, and hope Audible gets it, as this was one of the most enjoyable listens I've had in a long time.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • A Piece of Cake

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Cupcake Brown
    • Narrated By Bahni Turpin

    There are shelves of memoirs about overcoming the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, or homelessness. Cupcake Brown survived all these things before she'd even turned 20.

    Kim says: "Amazing , Brutal, Inspiring"
    "First Step"

    I think it's completely possible to live a life of extreme abuse, neglect and addiction, and not survive to be a great writer. Kudos to Cupcake for her journey to sobriety - she is clearly a person of tremendous inner strength - but the outcome of her writing is repetitive and hard to get through. This seems a bit odd, because the events themselves are pretty outrageous, so I guess the problem could be the writing style. The book reads like an expanded first step (of the famous 12), with exhaustive recounts of the rape, crime, beatings, loss, and excessive quantities of drugs and alcohol, endless missed opportunities for change, and the, FINALLY, minutiae of recovery, all using the same 3 adjectives. Perhaps it should be a required listen for people new to recovery, but as a memoir it's not so compelling. I found the book by searching for Bahni Turpin, since she was such an excellent narrator in The Help, and she did try to enliven the "negative behaviors" and events of Cupcake's life, but it still doesn't work for me.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Traveler's Wife

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Fred Berman, Phoebe Strole

    Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36. They were married when Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

    Scott says: "Epic Drama & Love Story through Time Travel"
    "purposeless review"

    So, it does seem somewhat pointless to write a review about a book that so many others have already written about. My hope is that other people will also write purposeless reviews, so that if their taste seems to match mine, I can follow their recommendations.

    Time Traveler's Wife is really a love story, in fact, awfully similar to the original "Love Story," with some time traveling literary license. Problem for me is, the characters are somewhat unbelievable, and the story is way too long. I say this despite the fact that I live on audiobooks, and happily devour 100 hour sagas on a regular basis. This one is purposeless at times, with rare artsy descriptions and digressions that are annoying and seem completely separate from the rest of the narrative. Other than these, the author's main descriptive power seems to be in the endless insider naming of streets and bars in Chicago, most of which are mispronounced by the narrators. In fact, this is also a major downpoint to the book; audible and other publishers are making millions on these books, but the narrators can't seem to garner enough effort to actually investigate words they're unfamiliar with. Street names, along with words like "tra-PEE-zoid" and "vi-CO-din" appear with alarming regularity, and are distracting from the listen. Otherwise, it was ok, but I am confused by the rave reviews.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire: The Millennium Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Stieg Larsson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered.

    David says: "irritatingly engrossing"
    "Best of its kind"

    This is definitely a fitting sequel to the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and was every bit as suspenseful and quirky. The protagonists are tantalizingly odd, and their bevy of magic-realism-level gifts and talents seems almost believable. Its easy to picture the late (and great) Mr Larsson downing the same incredible quantities of coffee that his characters drink (in fact, the only thing they seem to consume...) in order to work himself up to the frantic pace of the plot. Knowing that part of his goal was to draw attention to the plight of women caught in the sex trade, who have such limited power to defend and protect themselves, makes me appreciate the book even more.

    One down side - some of the characters seem to be built entirely around odd medical diagnoses. In addition, the characterization of psychiatry as a profession is rather appalling, while Mr Larsson's own description of psychopathology is frequently limited to "antisocial" and "extraordinarily violent." That said, I enjoyed listening to it, and got completely carried away by the plot.

    Simon Vance is a brilliant reader, and I am a huge fan; everything I have listened to which included him was compelling. I agree with the reviewer who mentioned how much cleaner her house has been since she couldn't put the book down - mine is too!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tea Time for the Traditionally Built: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Lisette Lecat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When she asks her dependable husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, to fix her tiny white van, Precious Ramotswe fears he might just sell the vehicle and buy her something more modern. And so he does. But this will not do. So Precious tries to track her beloved van down - and learns it has already been stolen from its new owner.

    Carl says: "Fun Like Always"
    "This series makes my life better"

    After reading the first Ladies No 1 Detective Agency book, I wrote that it could cure any existential crisis. This latest is just as good - extremely pleasurable and captivating. A few of the other books in the series have not been quite as fantastic as the original, but this installment keeps the series alive and kicking. There is not much going on in the way of suspense or "detection," but the characters are compelling, and I remain captivated by the cultural tidbits that McCall Smith provides. Lesette Lecat is a fantastic narrator, and the tempo of the book is slow, calm, and lovely.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The White Tiger: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Aravind Adiga
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life - having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Through Balram's eyes, we see India as we've never seen it before: the cockroaches and the call centers, the prostitutes and the worshippers, the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger.

    With a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create morality and money doesn't solve every problem.

    Mark P. Furlong says: "Entertaining, thought-provoking, darkly funny"
    "different opinions"

    Well, it just goes to show that people can have very different opinions. I thought this was a great book, with an unusual style describing a fascinating culture in full 3-D. The disgust with greed, consumerism, and the disregard of those less privileged is timely and refreshing. However, I disagree with many of the reviews because the narrator, John Lee, is just not my cup of tea. He seems to suck the life out of many of the books he reads, and I found his faux accent to be most annoying. I did enjoy the story itself but, wish I had just read the book.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Angels and Demons

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization, the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra.

    Phillip says: "I couldn't put it down...5 STARS"
    "Silly Me"

    Silly me for wanting a thriller to be plausible in the first place, but Dan Brown has pushed this one far beyond the spot where I am comfortable suspending disbelief. At least with the DaVinci Code I recognized that the characters were living in the same time/space dimensions as I do; here I'm not so sure - how many times can one person survive near-death in 24 hours? And, how many times can I hear about Michael Langdon's claustrophobia and then suffer through some sort of anaerobic disaster?

    Angels and Demons reads as though he was writing the screenplay rather than the novel, complete with "stunning" visuals, hand to hand combat, heroes hanging off of balconies one-handed, and sexy women. It is fun to listen to at times, but nowhere near as good as his original. Maybe he's trying to appease the religious zealots he offended in the DaVinci Code, and maybe he's trying to drum up more bad blood (and hot press), but the tired "science vs religion" debate leaves me rather bored in the end.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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