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  • Holes

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Louis Sachar
    • Narrated By Kerry Beyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Stanley Yelnats isn't so surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a juvenile detention center. After all, his family has been ridden with bad luck ever since a one-legged gypsy put a curse on his great-great grandfather. He is told that the hard labor he must perform, digging five-foot holes in the dried up soil where Green Lake once sat, is meant to build character. But it soon becomes clear to Stanley that the warden is really using the boys to search for something very valuable.

    Jannice says: "Holes"
    "Definitely recommended!"

    This book wasn?t quite what I expected when I chose it ? a slightly more serious tone than I anticipated ? but it didn?t disappoint! All the threads of characters and their stories are really well woven together.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches Book II

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Robert Stanek

    The epic adventure continues! Unleash the power of your imagination and enter a world you've never dreamed existed. Best-selling author Robert Stanek delivers an epic fantasy adventure that will open your mind and your heart.

    Amy says: "Absolutely Awesome!"
    "Give it a chance -- it picks up!"

    First off, since this is Audible, the reader drove me nuts. One other reviewer politely called it "a style" to get used to.

    The reader has a nice voice, but when speaking as a character he uses an effeminate tone that reminds me of skits where one of the male actors pretends to be a woman. In these skits, it's meant to be funny; in the book -- especially because the same tone is used for almost all characters, male *or* female -- it gets grating.

    The book itself is alright; I would've said you shouldn't waste your time with it except that the story did pick up in the latter third or so.

    The book plunges you so quickly into the characters and the land with all its politics and history that I'm wondering whether I missed an earlier book where all of these things are actually introduced??! I feel a bit left behind in that regard.

    But once the adventure began, things got interesting enough to get me past the book's shortcomings so that I'm willing to keep going onto book 2.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How to Grow a Backbone: 10 Strategies for Gaining Power and Influence at Work

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Susan Marshall
    • Narrated By Anna Fields

    To succeed in business today, you must be strong, smart, competitive, resilient, tenacious, and fearless. If you want to be heard at work, you must speak up. If you want to drive change, you need an action plan. If you want to keep your job in an increasingly competitive world, you must show on a daily basis how you add value to your company. In short, if you want to succeed, you need good, old-fashioned backbone.

    Amy says: "I'm sorry, but..."
    "I'm sorry, but..."

    ...this was painful! I admit, I haven't finished it - after starting the book in January, I'm slightly more than 3 hours into it, so I *do* think I made a pretty valiant effort, and enough that I can share a few thoughts.

    I think the book itself is not badly written, but 'Richard from Centennial' was spot-on when he said the reader's voice is dry and monotone.

    But now the important thing: The Content. I admit, I've not read a lot of leadership books so perhaps if I had more to compare it to, this one would rank higher up the scale. But I've found most of it so far to be "here's what someone with backbone does" without the How To information to follow-up.

    As an example, it's fine to say that someone with backbone sticks to his or her beliefs, but *how* do you do that in a room filled with disagreement? The book just leaves you hanging with this and many other situations.

    I gave the book one star because there *are* nuggets of information in it, they're just few and far between. If you really want to read the book, I suggest buying it in print and actually *reading* it - skip the audio version.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Stalking Darkness: Nightrunner, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Lynn Flewelling
    • Narrated By Raymond Todd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A master of subterfuge, a rogue thief with a noble air, Seregil of Rhiminee has taught his young protege, Alec of Kerry, his greatest secrets of the trade. Together they've made their way with thieving jobs large and small, winning friends and enemies, their lives in constant danger and yet charmed by an aura of magic, friendship, and trust.

    Amy says: "Pretty darned good"
    "Pretty darned good"

    Darker than the first book, "Luck in the Shadows" - which you should definitely read before starting this one! - this was quite an immersing read.

    With Skala preparing for war with Plenimar - a war that continues into the next book in this series - "Stalking Darkness" illustrates just how evil the enemy truly is. While it's not especially graphic, I found a couple of parts a bit too much for my imagination and had to (briefly) skip forward.

    I started the series with some hesitation after some reviewers of the first book complained about the "sex scenes"; assuming you've read the first book, you'll know what an exaggeration THAT was! There's a bit more "nookie" going on in this book, but I don't think it amounts to more than what one would see in a PG movie. Or prime time TV, for that matter.

    I've had a growing pet peeve with the last several books I've read, so I also need to add that this book does not suffer that same annoying fate; thank you, Ms. Flewelling, for writing a decent ending! If you've ever invested 25+ hours to read through a series only to have the ending last a disapointing 30 minutes or less, fear not! Although I definitely plan to get the next book (Traitor's Moon), Stalking Darkness wraps up the first two books with an ending that makes you think "Oh, well that's alright then." doesn't have "Traitor's Moon" yet, but with both the first two books just coming out this year, I'm hoping the third book is not far behind!!!

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori, Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Lian Hearn
    • Narrated By Kevin Gray, Aiko Nakasone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A tour-de-force novel set in ancient Japan filled with passion, fantasy, and feuding warlords. The first volume in the highly anticipated Tales of the Otori trilogy.

    Jody R. Nathan says: "Wonderful epic story"
    "Excellent -- can't wait for book two!"

    This is a fantastic story! Not only can I not wait to start book two, "Grass for His Pillow" - which I'll do today (!) - I was happy to find that the newly-published book three, "Brilliance of the Moon", is already available through

    I think this book owns all five stars easily; it's a well-written book with a great story to tell and readers who do a great job telling it. I agree with Lisa from Newton, CT, that the female reader does change the flow of the reading and is rather stilted. It was almost a tiny jolt whenever the narration turned over to her, but I found that after a few moments my ear would get used to her voice and the story would take over again.

    I also agree with Jody from Tulsa, OK, that the names are a bit difficult (and hard to remember) because they're unfamiliar, so a look over the printer version at some point may help...

    But overall a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shadow Puppets

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By David Birney, Stefan Rudnicki

    Best selling SF author Orson Scott Card brings to life a new chapter in the saga of Ender's Earth.

    Earth and its society have been changed irrevocably in the aftermath of Ender Wiggin's victory over the Formics. The unity forced upon the warring nations by an alien enemy has shattered. Nations are rising again, seeking territory and influence, and most of all, seeking to control the skills and loyalty of the children from the Battle School.

    Amy says: "Great book!"
    "Great book!"

    I just love these books; the "Ender" series and now the "Shadow" series, with Bean and Petra and Peter...I devour them!

    Don't read this book if you haven't read "Shadow of the Hegemon" (which is preceded by "Ender's Shadow"). And if you haven't read "Ender's Game" yet, stop here and buy that instead!

    Two things to point out, though:
    1) This book does not end the "Shadow" series, and so far as I can tell the next book hasn't been published yet! So, while this book doesn't exactly leave you hanging, it doesn't resolve the story, either.
    2) My only real complaint with these books are the love stories. I bought into the concept of battle school kids easily enough, and if you forget how old the characters are the story moves along fine. But I found that every time I remembered they're not yet 15, I recoiled a wee bit. I also note, however, that Card seems to realize this, and doesn't remind the reader about age very often.

    Definitely another great addition to the "Ender" series - I can't wait for the next one!

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Digital Fortress

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When the NSA's invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant, beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage, not by guns or bombs, but by a code so complex that if released it would cripple U.S. intelligence.

    Daniele says: "Don't try it"

    I enjoy reading Dan Brown; I find his books are based on interesting ideas and concepts, and Digital Fortress is no exception.

    I noted in my review of "Angels and Demons" that Brown's story-telling improves between that book and "The Da Vinci Code". "Digital Fortress", written before "Angels and Demons" further proves that sentiment. Heather from Fullerton's comment that it's "not quite as sophisticated" is spot on.

    The book starts off well enough, and it was ticking along fine until towards the end, when the characters - and therefore the story line - seemed inexplicably struck dumb.

    I read this book basically because it's written by Dan Brown, and I was curious to see what else he has written; as I said off the top, I find the ideas and concepts he writes about quite interesting.

    But if you're debating whether or not to get this book, I would say spend your money on something else - even another (later) Dan Brown book!

    43 of 45 people found this review helpful
  • Shadow of the Hegemon

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By David Birney, Scott Brick, Gabrielle de Cuir
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Orson Scott Card tells a tale long awaited by millions of fans: the story of how Bean turned away from his first friend, Ender, and became the tactical genius who won the Earth for Ender's brother, Peter, who became the Hegemon.

    Anthony says: "Good story...bad production"
    "An easy five-stars"

    The writing style of "Ender's Game" sort of petered out of the latter three books -- for the most part -- but it comes back in full force in "Shadow of the Hegemon".

    I enjoyed the entire Ender series, but I know others who didn't even finish "Speaker for the Dead" -- never mind "Xenocide" or "Children of the Mind". If you're a member of that group, THIS is definitely the book for you!!!

    "Shadow of the Hegemon" takes us right back to the end of the war with the buggers, which was a little weird having finished the Ender series because it's quite a jump back in time. If I had it to do over again, I don't know that I'd listen to this book before "Speaker for the Dead"...but I might try to listen to the two concurrently.

    I can't wait to start "Shadow Puppets" (the next Bean book)!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Ender's Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, Gabrielle de Cuir
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s easy to say that when it comes to sci-fi you either love it or you hate it. But with Ender’s Game, it seems to be you either love it or you love it.... The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation.

    Kapila says: "6 titles in the series so far"
    "A great listen -- I'm ready for more!"

    The writing isn't complicated. The main characters are children. But the ideas set out in Ender's Game -- Science Fiction or not -- have had my adult brain ticking away since I was just a little ways into the book!

    It *is* Science Fiction, and yet there seems to be a truth, or at least possibility, in some of the situations presented. Certainly not the Buggers or the inter-space travel, but the way the characters develop, how they use their talents and skills, their relationships and inner battles offer much food for thought.

    This book is well read, but I agree with another reviewer who commented about the voice used for Valentine, Ender's sister; the lilt and tone of her voice made her sometimes seem half drugged, or trance-like. Given some of her conflict, this may have been done on purpose...but I thought it detracted a bit from the text.

    I also found the postscript from the author interesting, learning that Ender's Game was originally written as an award-winning short story, and was only fleshed out into a novel several years later largely to enable the next book in the series, Speaker for the Dead.

    Without giving too much away about the ending, be prepared to listen to -- or read -- Speaker for the Dead (as well, of course, as the books after). I haven't yet, but I'm fairly sure the next book will reveal much more about the conclusion of Ender's Game.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Da Vinci Code

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, a baffling cipher found near the body. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, sort through the bizarre riddle, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci, clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

    Alexandra says: "Incredibly entertaining"
    "Highly recommended -- really enjoyable!"

    I really enjoyed this book (unabridged version), and purchased it based on the excellent reviews the book has received. Having just now read reviews like that written by Stacey from Seattle -- "A Bestseller? A Travesty!" -- I was suprised the writing/plot fell so flat for some people.

    There's not much I didn't like about this book. I found the characters increasingly easy to empathize with as the story progressed - sometimes surprisingly so. But what I *most* enjoyed was the way the references to historical works of art, as well as prominent persons and events in history, were woven throughout the story.

    Not knowing details about much of the history discussed in the book, I now feel compelled to pull some related non-fiction texts from the library. For a book to be an entertaining fictional read/listen, and at the same time inspire you to want to learn more about real history, is an accomplishment in itself.

    Stacey from Seattle criticizes the reptition of some sentences and phrases annoying...and maybe it would be if I were reading the book. But for an audio book, where you can't refer back a page or two, the repetition wasn't annoying and saved me having to press rewind repeatedly!

    Sometimes things are resolved and then spelled out fully but, quite honestly (and no offense intended!), some people need it! Paul Michael also does a great job reading.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen R. Covey
    • Narrated By Stephen R. Covey

    What are the habits all successful people share? In this audio presentation, Stephen R. Covey answers that question and teaches you how to make the Seven Habits a part of your life.

    Amy says: "Doesn't replace the book"
    "Doesn't replace the book"

    I often choose audio books because they're books I want to read but haven't yet. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is one of those books; I have the book at home, but got busy and haven't yet read beyond the first few chapters.

    This was also my first abridged audio book, and in retrospect I would have saved my money and made more time to read the original book; this abridged recording doesn't do the book justice.

    The author's reading is only so-so. He reads with many pauses -- probably done to emphasize thoughts and ideas -- but rather than add to the material they just interrupt it a lot.

    There are also musical "interludes" between chapters read by a second reader -- a "host" if you will -- that remind me of those TV shows that open with "When we last saw our hero..." This device doesn't always work for TV shows, and I don't think it works here; it just serves as another interruption.

    The book version of "The 7 Habits" has diagrams that help illustrate points, and although I'm sure this audio book contains the essence of the book, it's definitely more a supplement than a replacement for it -- I'd recommend spending your money on a hard copy.

    61 of 64 people found this review helpful

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