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Ellen

Woodbridge, CT, United States | Member Since 2012

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 14 ratings
  • 66 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2014
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  • The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Susan Casey
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (130)

    For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories - waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea - including several that approached 100 feet.

    Roy says: "Do the Wave"
    "Diverting, Informatve & Compelling; The Wave Sings"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Wave to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read the print version, but Kirsten Potter's reading was wonderful.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The writer! Her enthusiasm and admiration for her subjects: the people, the science, the cultures and the ocean itself, made the book completely engaging. I could practically feel the hissing of the foam on my skin. She put me there.


    What does Kirsten Potter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Non-fiction can be on the dry side. The combination of Potter's narration with Casey's prose made this book lively. Potter's performance is terrific and she's got one of the best voices that I've ever heard performing an audiobook.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Moving Mountains of the Sea


    Any additional comments?

    This is a subject matter that interests me and I've read a lot of books on oceanographical topics. This is one of the really good ones. The pacing is great. The descriptions of the locations are sumptuous, adventure-travel porn of the highest order. And Casey really connects with the people she covers. I'll be looking for more books from her. And I will be looking to hear more from Potter as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Annihilation: Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Jeff VanderMeer
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

    Jim N says: "A Strange, Surreal Delight"
    "So Not Finch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not the audio version. Perhaps if I'd read it, I would have preferred it. Most of my friends are not fans of speculative fiction or biopunk or the new weird or whatever this book falls into. So I only recommend genre books when I think they are exceptional: Perdido St. Station, The Wind-up Girl, Finch. I don't think this book will be appealing to someone who is not already dipping pretty deeply into the F&SF pool.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Meh.


    What didn’t you like about Carolyn McCormick’s performance?

    It was very stilted. The character she is performing is an unreliable narrator if ever there was one, someone who has been infected by mysterious spores and undergoing transformation into something probably not human, so I understand what she was trying to do. But as a directorial decision, it failed. One scene in the book is treated pretty much the same as the next, one word in a sentence is treated pretty much the same as the next. It did not draw me in at all. It was especially disappointing compared to Oliver Wyman's reading of Finch, which was so charged and so engaging. Granted, McCormick was reading a very different book.


    Did Annihilation inspire you to do anything?

    Go back and listen to Finch again.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm a fan of Vandermeer's and I may well prefer the print version of this book. I loved Finch, LOVED IT. This book? No. We are offered narrator's vision of events which she presents as a biologist's POV. There's a lot of biology speak that doesn't ring true. Perhaps she was never actually a scientist and that is the point. But I don't want to read a book full of pompous delusional blathering. Sure, I want to know the secret, want to know what area X is and what the authorities think they are doing about it. But it's not pressing because I don't care about the character. I don't know that I'm interested enough to continue with the series.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Langdon Cook
    • Narrated By Kevin Free
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (66)

    Within the dark corners of America’s forests grow culinary treasures. Chefs pay top dollar to showcase these elusive and beguiling ingredients on their menus. Whether dressing up a filet mignon with smoky morels or shaving luxurious white truffles over pasta, the most elegant restaurants across the country now feature an abundance of wild mushrooms. Langdon Cook embeds himself in this shadowy subculture, reporting from both rural fringes and big-city eateries.

    valerie s. says: "Intriguing and full of fun!"
    "Just What the Mycologist Ordered!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Mushroom Hunters the most enjoyable?

    I'd only recently taken up mushrooming. Meant to learn about mushrooms for years, and finally joined the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society. I'm a nature freak, always have been, but I didn't know much about fungus until I got involved with the club. The east coast is not the mushroom mecca that the west coast is, but you can still find almost all of the species covered in the book, if not in such astonishing abundance (less so with the droughts that are hurting us all where ever we are).

    I've had a taste of the way your heart pounds when you find a flush of chanterelles or trumpets, sprinted under the canopy to pounce on a king bolete (as if it could run away). So to listen to the buzz of finding hundreds of them, oh my!

    This was the right book at the right time for me.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Mushroom Hunters?

    When the author gets lost trying to navigate through the fallen trees on a burn site.


    What about Kevin Free’s performance did you like?

    He sounded like the kind of guy you'd go mushrooming with.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me hungry for MUSHROOMS.


    Any additional comments?

    I actually listened to this while I was out in the woods looking for mushrooms. Found a nice big flush of Hydnum repandum with my earbuds in!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Eric Schlosser
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (239)

    Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America's nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved - and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.

    Ethan M. says: "A miracle that we escaped the Cold War alive...."
    "HOLY F*CK! HOW HAVE WE SURVIVED THIS LONG?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Command and Control the most enjoyable?

    It was jaw dropping and terrifying. Stephen King should quit and start writing for Sesame Street because this truth is so much more frightening than any fiction. I often listen to books when I go to bed, and dear god, the dreams I had when I fell asleep when this book was running! But it is also encouraging, in that somebody must have our backs, because it is a flipping miracle when haven't been blow to kingdom come a dozen times over.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Characters? This was nonfiction. I wish it was fiction.

    Rescue workers who head back to save people even when doing so is likely to kill them. All those guys! How can you not be moved? In the big karmic book, it offsets those douchebag politicians who are too cheap/stupid to budget safety measures and the military narcissists who think atomic weapons are a good idea. But karma doesn't necessarily save our ridiculous ape species from extincting ourselves.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    He was clear, had good pacing, and almost matter of fact.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The rescue workers. See above "favorite characters.


    Any additional comments?

    Read this or listen to it. While we are all sweating it, what with the economic collapse and all the gun violence and the poisoned water and compromised food supply and fracking and what all, you owe it to yourself to learn about the ways we seem to be determined to hasten our own extermination.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • On Such a Full Sea: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Chang-rae Lee
    • Narrated By B. D. Wong
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (67)

    In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class - descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China - find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

    Dr. says: "Inventive, Engaging, & Surprising"
    "An Engaging Dystopia Just Around the Bend"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It works on many levels so you can approach it from different angles.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way the story moved back and forth between Fan's uncomfortable, often frightening experiences and the mythologizing of those experiences by the residents of B-More.


    What about B. D. Wong’s performance did you like?

    He was not awkward with characters who were children or female. He moved seamlessly between the characters, and kept the story flowing even as the mood changed.


    If you could take any character from On Such a Full Sea out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Reg! To finally meet him!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Finch

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Jeff VanderMeer
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (181)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (69)

    Mysterious underground inhabitants known as the gray caps have reconquered the failed fantasy state Ambergris and put it under martial law. They are controlling the human inhabitants with strange addictive drugs, internment in camps, and random acts of terror. The rebel resistance is scattered, and the gray caps are using human labor to build two strange towers. John Finch must solve an impossible double murder for his gray cap masters while trying to make contact with the rebels.

    Pie says: "Awesome."
    "I (for one) Welcome Our New Fungal Overlords!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Finch to be better than the print version?

    I don't have the print version, YET. You bet I'll get it now.


    What other book might you compare Finch to and why?

    Perdido Street Station. Because it is weird and wonderful and disturbing and haunting.


    Have you listened to any of Oliver Wyman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Have not had the pleasure.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Oh holy fuck no. It took me weeks. I had to go back and listen to chapters a couple of times. I will listen to this again and read it too. I don't usually do that. I'm an impatient person. But this book got under my skin. Ambergris is hardly a place you'd want to visit, but it kept pulling me there.


    Any additional comments?

    Last fall I took up mushroom collecting. I joined a mushroom club. I'd been wandering through the woods for ages, but now I was doing it with a purpose. I had "Finch" loaded on my iPod in July when I went on a club (Connecticut Valley Mycological Society. Amazing group. Amazing people.) foray, a group mushroom hunt.After the foray, I headed up to RI for a family reunion (happily not thermonuclear). On the way, I stopped at a spot I'd seen vast numbers of chanterelles in Exeter. Sadly, it was dry dry dry with only a couple of dubious Russulas, so i headed on to Jamestown and a relaxed dinner with the family. Slept fitfully on a lumpy couch that can only have come from some proto IKEA. It was in a high-ceilinged room with open windows on all sides and there was a delicious sea breeze.

    I fell asleep listening to "Finch". On the one hand, the book is detective noir, on the other, it's fantasy of the "new weird" stripe. I think. I'm a bit vague on what counts as new weird. The thing is, China Mieville can only write so many books and my jones for more like "Perdido Street Station" has led me in all kinds of directions, many of them in various science fiction and fantasy subgenres. (Biopunk ahoy!) I'd ignored such things since the 70's when I glutted myself on New Wave (before that meant music made by guys with shoulder pads and eyeliner.) Some fun stuff has been written in the last thirty years. So yeah, genre fiction. Dunno if I should thank Mieville or blame him.

    So I was dozing on the lumpy couch, the air is cool, heavy and soothing. There's a fog horn moaning in the distance. (When the wind is right, you can hear a bell buoy, but just now it's not.) I'm exhausted, but too creaky to sleep well on the lumpy couch. I put in the earbuds and start listening to "Finch".I drift in and out of sleep. I am tired but the couch is lumpy. The story is fascinating, but my body is weary. I listen and I dream and my dreams weave with the narrative because it is all mycological.

    Finch lives in a city controlled by sentient and malevolent fungi. The story is full of fruiting bodies and spores. The mushroom masters grow buildings and cities, they speak in moist tones with mouths full of gills. They infect humans and have an extensive organic underground monitoring system, a spy network secret police made pf mycelium.

    I'm thinking that Vandermeer watched the sh*t out of a bunch of Paul Stamets vids. It would be cool to go foraging with him, to do mushrooms with him. Because in the book he's kind of focusing on the creepy aspect of fungi and there's so much more. If there is a holy trinity for macro biota, it's animals + plants + fungi. You can't pull any of those out of the equation.

    Finch would creep me out more if I was mycophobic. It's hard to fear the gray cap overlords when your dreams have you cutting them off at the ankles to pop them in your basket so you can bring them home to ID to see if they might be tasty.

    I'm obsessing on mushrooms now, even so this is one scary book!I wrote that back in July. It took me a couple of weeks to finish Finch. Goddamn, I loved it. Jonesing for more real bad. DAMN YOU AUDIBLE, WHY DON'T YOU HAVE THE OTHER AMBERGRIS BOOKS‽‽‽‽If I have any beef with "Finch", it's that I want MORE. It's the first in the series that I've "read". I'll go and get myself copies of "Shriek: An Afterward" and "City of Saints and Madmen". I would like them as audiobooks, would like them read by the same reader, Oliver Wyman, but you don't get what you want. Such is life.

    I was thinking I would not want to live in Ambergris, but it might just be a world less dangerous than our own. If you are the kind of person who reads books simply to be comforted, give "Finch" a pass. But if you demand more from a novel, let the spores infect you. Feel the mycelium that is Finch growing through you like a Cordyceps, paralyzing you, exploding into your mind.

    Dig it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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