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Stephanie

Patterson, CA, United States | Member Since 2012

8
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 40 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 20 purchased in 2014
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  • Mort: Discworld #4

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Nigel Planer
    Overall
    (1331)
    Performance
    (594)
    Story
    (596)

    Jonas says: "Best so far"
    "A return to Pratchett's wit!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Death is one of my favorite characters in the Discworld series. He is second only to The Luggage. I have discovered that the reason for this is that these characters, especially The Luggage without his own dialogue or facial expressions, require Pratchett to be more creative and bring out the best in his wit. "Mort" is all about Death. And his apprentice, of course.

    Maybe I was coming off the hangover from suffering through "Equal Rites," causing me to laugh at anything remotely funny, or that was better than the third installation of the Discworld series --- but, geez was "Mort" funny! You are greeted with old characters: Death, Isabelle, and even Rincewind at one point, and new ones: Mort, Albert, the princess, and Cutwell.

    Without going into much detail, Mort becomes Death's apprentice and hilarity ensues. The young Mort struggles with suddenly being thrust into Death's "There is no justice, there is just me" world and his mistakes have grave consequences for the Discworld and for Death.

    I most enjoyed reading (hearing?) about Death's escapades while Mort took over the Deathly duties. Death desperately wanted a break from "Death-ing" and Pratchett's descriptions of Death's interactions with the world at large are unrivaled.

    If you enjoy lighthearted hilarity mixed with a strong morbid theme, combined with Pratchett's signature wit, you will love this next installment of the Discworld series. And thankfully, Nigel Planer has returned to guide us through this world in a way that only he can.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Last Argument of Kings: The First Law: Book Three

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joe Abercrombie
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    Overall
    (2737)
    Performance
    (1974)
    Story
    (1985)

    The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend and his oldest enemy. It’s time for the Bloody-Nine to come home. With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no-one is safe and no-one can be trusted.

    Lore says: "You have be realistic about these things."
    "A bold conclusion to an impressive trilogy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Joe Abercrombie is a bold writer. I knew this about five minutes into "The Blade Itself" - but he proved it with his approach to ending the trilogy. I am SO glad that I persevered through the more gruesome and spine-tingling passages. It was worth every second.

    Steven Pacey is a phenomenal narrator. His narration gave so much life to these novels, it was as though they were being acted out, not merely read aloud.


    But more to Abercrombie's writing - he utilizes a couple of literary devices that I appreciated. Maybe that's the wrong term, but it's the one I shall use to describe two parts of his style:

    1. Shifts in perspective. This began in Book 1 and continued seamlessly through Book 3, further enabled by the expert narration. Each character takes on different life depending upon through whose eyes he is being viewed. Glokta becomes more or less revolting, Jazel becomes more or less whiny and annoying, Logan more or less barbaric ... I thoroughly enjoyed seeing each character through his own eyes, and through the eyes of the others. The subtle shifts between characters were very bold, anticipating the reader's ability to quickly follow along and catch the changes (though these shifts may not have been so subtle in print ...) I enjoyed catching a change in pitch in the narration of a voice, to realize that the perspective had changed. Although this style was used throughout the trilogy, it became most pronounced in this third book as the action and suspense increased.

    2. Use of themes/repeated phrases. Glokta repeats the phrase, "Body floating by the docks" to illustrate when he is in danger of reprimand, or to point out (subtly, yet not so subtly) when another is in equal danger. Logan has the "say one thing about Logan Ninefingers..." attached to his character. These repeat themes were witty and wise, yet not so over-used as to become cliche, annoying, or a vice of the author. Instead, they were just plain clever.

    Although the third novel was not my favorite of the trilogy (that prize goes to "Before They Are Hanged"), it was expertly written and concluded with such audacity that I felt not a twinge of disappointment at finishing the trilogy, though I thirsted for more of Abercrombie's refreshing style.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Way of Shadows: Night Angel Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Brent Weeks
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2420)
    Performance
    (1553)
    Story
    (1564)

    For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art---and he is the city's most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir. For Azoth, survival is precarious, something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums and learned to judge people quickly---and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name.

    Ethan M. says: "A good grim fantasy series, with caveats"
    "Poor narration killed an already floundering tale."
    Overall
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    I have to start with the worst part about this book: The narrator. I usually can be pretty forgiving of a narrator's quirks in intonation, pronunciation, or accent, especially after listening for a few hours and growing accustomed to his or her unique approach to reading. Not so with Paul Boehmer. It sounded like he was reading to a child, stressing every word, or the wrong words, as though every thought, idea, or utterance was some grand revelation that required special emphasis. I thought this might fade as the book went on, or that I would at least grow used to it, but it distracted so severely from the story, that I'm not sure if the novel would have been so bad if I had just read it myself. I often did not know how a character was really feeling, and had to frequently guess at the intentions of a character because of the reading that was so over-emphasized that it became bland and oddly monotone. When everything is important, nothing is.

    As to the story: it was a cliche tale of a young boy striving to emulate the rogue hero, a man who deserves no admiration, yet receives the undying devotion of our young protagonist. Kylar (as he is ultimately called) is convinced that there must be a softer side to his master's sharp edges, and naturally he is right, as there is no rugged hero without a deep, emotional self hidden beneath the rough exterior. Blah, blah, blah. "Never fall in love" was a phrase too oft repeated to have any meaning - and it soon assumed the opposite effect making it painfully clear to the reader that the whole point was for our protagonist to fall in love (and with a young woman whom he had saved as a young child). Very little was original about this story. Brent Weeks has demonstrated wit in various writings I've seen (I actually sought out his books based on a review he wrote...), but I saw none of this in this novel.

    I won't be picking up the follow-up to this slop. I could not care less about the fate of these characters. And I certainly cannot listen to a single moment more of this narrator's awful interpretation of the text.

    I'll try another Brent Weeks novel ... I still have some hopes. Just with a different storyline and a different narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Joe Abercrombie
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    Overall
    (3694)
    Performance
    (2645)
    Story
    (2659)

    Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain and shallow, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

    Steven says: "Steven Pacey is magnificient."
    "Say one thing about Joe Abercrombie ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ... say he knows how to write a villain.

    I almost did not finish this book. I shocked myself when I devoured the entire trilogy and still wanted more.

    Joe Abercrombie's style is gritty, unabashed, and vivid. I knew this going into the series, and yet, it still shocked me. The shock was so severe, I almost stopped listening about an hour into the first book. But I like a challenge, and I don't like to give up, so I plowed forward. The other motivator was Abercrombie's wit. His humor is dry and sharp and subtle (though sometimes less-so).

    My first impressions were also tarnished by the voice given to Glokta. He lisps. It makes sense why ... but I found him difficult to understand and annoyed that a main character would be such a challenge to listen to. But as other characters were introduced, and Glokta's personality became clearer, I appreciated his lisp. It gave his character an extraordinary amount of depth that would have been missing based on the writing alone.

    This book (and the entire series) is character-driven. There isn't a clear plot or goal established by the end of the first book, and even after completing the series, I'd describe the plot as thin. But, oh, these characters. They are villains. All of them. There is no clear delineation of who can be trusted and who cannot, except that it seems pretty clear letting your guard down around any of them will get you killed. I found myself loving and hating each of these characters. I was intrigued by them, annoyed by them, disgusted by them and utterly fascinated to the very end.

    Some scenes were difficult to listen to. The torture scenes were tough while driving to work in the morning and I found myself cringing or closing my eyes at inopportune moments. But the battle scenes are epic and the gory details make them exciting and suspenseful.

    It's hard to give a full review of just this book, without taking into account the entire series. But, I'll say this. Many themes are started in this book that are carried throughout the series. And the humor, suspense, and action of the first novel only improve as the series continues. I think Glokta's character is the best-written and has the most depth, but they all lend something unique to the story.

    Be prepared for grittiness, irreverence, cursing, and violence. Joe Abercrombie pulls no punches and censors his characters for no man. And it would be an utter shame if he did. Anyone who appreciates multi-dimensional characters that themselves carry the story even in the absence of clear plot direction, will love The Blade Itself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (48 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5795)
    Performance
    (5523)
    Story
    (5536)

    In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war.

    D says: "Book !!; no let down- "Words of Radieance" shines"
    "Riveting second installment to a great series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much of this review overlaps with/echoes my review of "The Way of Kings." They are written so seamlessly that the same praise and criticism really applies to both.

    So, if you enjoyed "The Way of Kings," it makes no sense at all to forego reading "Words of Radiance." Everything that was awesome about the first book is compounded in the second. And I'd say the writing even improved somewhat (better editing?)


    Summary:

    Story/Plot: Epic, intriguing, fascinating, compelling ... downright riveting at times.
    Writing: OK, an improvement over prior Sanderson novels, but still not stellar.
    Character development: Very good - but the flaws of his heroes are over-emphasized.
    Narration/performance: Nothing short of excellent.


    This book has the same fluid transitions from character to character, including the interludes introduced in Way of Kings. I enjoyed the interludes more in this book as I felt they aided in plot development more than in the first book.

    Kaladin is, well, Kaladin. At one point I nearly threw my iPhone at the wall because he frustrated me so much. Luckily I wasn't driving at that point ... his reluctance seemed very exaggerated and the chip on his shoulder was bigger than ever. Once again, though, he was saved by the character transitions, so I was able to hear about someone else while I overcame my anger at Kaladin's blind and ignorant arrogance.

    Shallan was confusing to me ... she, too, became a reluctant hero of sorts. And made decisions that felt unnecessarily unwise. But the character development was so strong, that each decision ultimately seemed to make sense in the grand scope of the story.

    The supporting cast is far more developed this time around. I loved Wit. I really, really, really loved Wit. I frequently laughed out loud at his dialogue. The same was true for Rock and Lopen who were endearing in the first book, but really came into their own in this one.

    The duels were suspenseful, the battle scenes epic, and the entire story progressed very quickly, without lulls. This book relied more on "deus ex machina" it seems ... but it wasn't *so* contrived that I was distracted or any less entertained. Ultimately I rooted for the characters so much that I didn't care how they succeeded or survived, I just wanted them to succeed or survive!

    Sanderson's writing improved somewhat in this book. I was distracted less often by his juvenile choice of words, "too-modern" slang, or lazy dialogues. As I place much value on the quality of prose, this was a big deal to me. (Compare: the Mistborn series that I actually quit reading and returned because of the awful, *awful* dialogue and writing style).

    The narration was fantastic, as before. Kramer was flawless, but unfortunately Reading was required to do more work with "Pattern" who was just as annoying as before. But that is easily overlooked because of the strength of the narration in every other aspect.

    The only problem that remains? I don't want to wait for the next one to come out!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Way of Kings: Book One of The Stormlight Archive

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9579)
    Performance
    (7096)
    Story
    (7144)

    Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter. It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor.

    Jason says: "Brandon's Best Work Yet"
    "Epic fantasy - Epic story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In sum:

    Story/Plot: Epic, intriguing, fascinating, compelling ... downright riveting at times.
    Writing: OK, an improvement over prior Sanderson novels, but still not stellar.
    Character development: Very good - but the flaws of his heroes are over-emphasized.
    Narration/performance: Nothing short of excellent.


    I was hesitant when I selected this book. Sanderson didn't impress me with his previous novels. In fact, I was so unimpressed, I returned the Mistborn series (and I *hate* returning books). But I was determined to find out why people rave about Sanderson ...

    I love epic fantasy. That was my primary reason for doggedly pursuing Sanderson's writing, despite prior disappointments. Luckily, this was no disappointment.

    The story follows multiple characters, and does so with fluidity. Each character is well-developed, leaving me rarely disappointed to leave one because of the excitement to return to the story of another. I was riveted more than I wasn't, which is quite the feat for 40 hours of listening.

    The characters aren't without flaws. Kaladin is very much the reluctant hero. His personality and attitude seem to echo Rand from Wheel of Time in many ways, to the point that I actually became frustrated at what seemed a recycling of Sanderson's experience with that series. Luckily, Kaladin became distinct enough and was buffeted by his supporting cast so as to dispel my unease about the similarities. But Kaladin's reluctance can be obnoxious, annoying, frustrating ... that's where the shifts to other characters were appreciated. The reluctance often manifests itself in severe depression, not entirely driven by his negative life experiences. And the moodiness that results often made me wonder why anyone tolerated him, much less accepted him as a leader.

    Shallan's story had me the most intrigued, as it was the most mysterious. Her character isn't terribly likable, as most sci-fi/fantasy female characters aren't. She can be whiny and weak, yet desperately seeks to be respected due to the chip on her shoulder (that only increases in size as the story continues. She makes poor decisions, but these are acknowledged directly, and incorporated into the plotline, rather than being overlooked because the poor decision was necessary to drive the plot. I appreciated that, as too many authors expect a reader to overlook the obvious "good decision" and just accept that the character was too moronic to see the same things. Despite her flaws, I still found myself rooting for her, liking her, and intrigued by her character's path.

    What really propels this story is, well, the story... regardless of how unlikable his characters may be at times, Sanderson knows a good story. He weaves a complex tale with deep intrigue and a strong human element. And that was irresistible.

    My biggest complaint, as with his previous novels, was Sanderson's writing. Nothing ruins a great story, or an epic scene within a great story, like poor writing, indelicate choice of words, or just plain laziness. With a good editor, Sanderson's novels would go from being simply entertaining during a single read to truly epic novels that stand the test of time. I was close to making a list of the "ugly" phrases, ill-advised colloquialisms, and lazy word choices, but I listen mostly in the car, and that makes writing difficult.

    Suffice it to say, if you're not picky about a writer's prose, Sanderson won't bother you. But, in my opinion, Sanderson needs to elevate his writing style just a notch or two if he wants to truly captivate the discerning reader. I prefer fantasy that could pass for good literature, not fantasy that is worth no more than the harlequin romance novels a few shelves over. Unfortunately, Sanderson's writing sometimes crosses into the realm of the latter.

    The narration was fantastic, as I have come to expect from Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. I especially love Kramer's narration. Reading is very good, but I think she struggles with "characters" that are more unorthodox. In this case, it was "Pattern" that caused some irritation and became difficult to listen to at length. While Kramer excels with the various voices and characters, beautifully and convincingly bringing each one to life.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Unfettered: Tales By Masters of Fantasy

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, and others
    • Narrated By Peter Ganim, Marc Vietor, Bronson Pinchot, and others
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (223)

    You define life or it defines you. In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story that Shawn could sell to help alleviate those bills—and suggested he ask the same of his other writer friends. Unfettered is the result: An anthology built in order to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre.

    gerry says: "Great Crash Course on Fantasy Writers"
    "Mixed feelings"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wanted to love this compilation of short stories. It was written for a pure, altruistic purpose. The contributors included some of my favorite authors, and many more about whom I had been curious for some time. Some of the stories were engaging, but many were not. Many were downright sad and left me not knowing how to feel, what to think, or what the author was even trying to convey with his or her words.

    The compilation receives three stars because of those gems hidden inside. I enjoyed Rothfuss' quirky tale. A couple more - one about a viola, another about saving a library from war (I don't recall the authors) - were interesting despite the deep sadness in the tale.

    I took away two stars because of the lack of consistency. Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe it was unfair to expect to be entertained by every story in such an eclectic compilation. But I wasn't expecting entertainment, so much as I was hoping to be inspired, to have my curiosity piqued, or to just hear stories that I could appreciate (at the very least) for their literary value, if not for the tale itself.

    I understand the sadness that permeates many (most?) of these short stories. It was moving at times - leaving me shaken and changed - but I also found myself often pausing the book and stepping away because it was just too much.

    The narrators are fantastic. They were well-selected for each story and each performs beautifully. I think only one story stood out as "less-well-narrated" - but it was near the end and not significant enough to recall specifically. With so many stories, and so many narrators, that is a job well done in my eyes.

    This book is certainly worth the one credit. I'd buy it again, and I'm tempted to buy the hard copy, if only for those special stories tucked amid the less-inspiring.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Monstrous Regiment: Discworld #31

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Stephen Briggs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (965)
    Performance
    (457)
    Story
    (461)

    War has come to Discworld...again. And, to no one's great surprise, the conflict centers around the small, insufferably arrogant, strictly fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia, which has long prided itself on its ability to beat up on its neighbors. This time, however, it's Borogravia that's getting its long-overdue comeuppance, which has left the country severely drained of young men.

    omahonycm says: "Who's who?"
    "One of the Discworld Best!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even among Pratchett's many beguiling works, there are few that make me laugh out loud more than a couple of times. Monstrous Regiment had me laughing non-stop. The subtle wit - the not-so-subtle wit - it was entertaining and enjoyable.

    The characters are almost all new, except for Commander Vimes (spelling?) who appears occasionally with his Watchmen. This was daunting to me, because I have grown attached to the Discworld regulars and feel a little overwhelmed when they don't appear in the novels. Nonetheless, the characters were well-developed and interesting from the very start.

    There isn't much more to say without giving away parts of the story - suffice it to say that this unique "parody" of army life is also a rewarding and witty commentary on politics, feminism, and world peace. And it's hilarious. Riotous, even.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Well of Ascension: Mistborn, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6229)
    Performance
    (4211)
    Story
    (4242)

    The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler - the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years - has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.

    Robert says: "It keeps getting even better"
    "Mind-numbing dialogue without plot direction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I should have stopped after the first book. I knew I should have stopped. But Sanderson receives such high marks for his writing that I thought I must have been missing something, or maybe was expecting too much. Nope. Even with my far-reduced expectations, Sanderson is still not a good writer.

    Most of this story is a siege. A stand-off. It is contrived, unrealistic, and dull.

    The characters were multi-faceted in "The Final Empire." In "Well of Ascension," they've been reduced to their one allomantic power. And those who aren't allomancers? They're nearly useless. Even the feruchemie is written as as an inferior skill.

    The dialogue is made up of the following: "Blah, blah, blah," Vin SAID. "Oh, Blah, blah, blah," Elend SAID. Then "Vin SAID" then "Elend SAID" and on and on and on. Is it really that difficult to write creatively? Adverbs maybe? Synonyms for "said"? But no ... Sanderson phones it in on his dialogue every single time.

    Sanderson repeats facts, or scenes, or pieces of the plot-puzzle too many times, and he chooses those facts, scenes, or pieces that require no repeating - we will remember that Sazed is a Keeper and can store information in his metal minds. I do not require reminding of that every time he enters a scene.

    The writing suffers from more than just poor editing. Rather than let the story and characters propel the plot, he TELLS the reader what is happening. There is no illustration in his writing, unless it's to describe gore or battle scenes. I am fine with those things, but when that is the only strength to a fantasy novel that purports to provide a story with multiple complex "magic" systems, multiple deities, and various powers struggling for control ... I expect more.

    I cannot end this review, however, without mentioning the incredible talent possessed by Michael Kramer. It was his narration that helped me survive the Wheel of Time series, and it is his narration that helped me through these books as well. If I dare waste a credit on any of Sanderson's other novels, it will be only due to Kramer's devoted narration.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (A Full Cast Production)

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Ron McLarty, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4389)
    Performance
    (3918)
    Story
    (3940)

    First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this 10th anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author's preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

    Michael says: "New to Neil"
    "Captivating tale with an extraordinary performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't know what to expect from my first Neil Gaiman book: American Gods. I heard amazing things about Gaiman before this, I read "Good Omens" written with Terry Pratchett, and I love the sci-fi/fantasy genre, so it was bound to be a match made in heaven. And it certainly was.

    Gaiman has made a single book out of multiple different tales, and in the process presents an image of America the way only someone coming from the outside possibly could. I enjoyed the digressions into American history and the histories of some gods. But I especially loved Shadow and Wednesday. Their characters are so well-developed that you sit in the story with them as you listen.

    The performance is fantastic. I was hesitant (skeptical, really) about a "Full Cast Production" of an audio book. I'm not terribly fond of most female readers, and I've grown comfortable with the drone of a single reader doing multiple voices. On this issue, I was very, VERY wrong to be so cautious. The reading is spectacular. The use of different readers for each character gave this book so much more life, and actually enhanced certain parts of the book, as there are sections where the identity of the acting character is only implied... with the different readers, it felt like I had inside information that made those sections even more interesting.

    One note, I was initially a little shocked by how sexually graphic some of the "worship" scenes were - not enough to minimize my appreciation of the book, but certainly not what I expected to be listening to while driving down the freeway at 70 MPH. Luckily, I'm always alone when listening to books, so I didn't have to worry about these scenes being witnessed by the wrong audience. And although for me it didn't detract from the story (enhanced it in many ways), some more sensitive readers may feel differently.

    Bottom line: A great read. Worth every minute.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Garth Stein
    • Narrated By Christopher Evan Welch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5501)
    Performance
    (3457)
    Story
    (3466)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: If you’ve ever loved a dog - or even patted a dog - this book, told from the perspective of man’s best friend, will tug at your heartstrings...and won’t let go until long after Welch performs the last word. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and by listening very closely to the words of his master.

    Lora says: "Enzo (because he's so wize) for president."
    "Tough read for a dog lover"
    Overall
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    Story

    I have struggled with how to rate and review this book. I think because I love my dogs in such an extreme way, any book that delves so deeply into the fleeting yet ironclad relationship between a dog and owner will be tough for me to read. So, I have tried to be as objective as possible in some respects, and to temper my emotional response to this book.

    I'll start with the performance: Phenomenal. This is the first book I've listened to with Christopher Welch as the narrator, and I am going to look for more books that he has narrated. He was amazing. Welch managed to capture every single voice, male and female, in a believable way that made the listening experience very pleasant. And his voice for the primary character, Enzo, was impeccable. Welch captured every bit of emotion that the writer clearly wished to convey. I don't cry over books or movies easily, so I have the sense that my emotional response to this story would not have been nearly as strong, if not for Welch's stellar narration.

    The story is very well-written. The perspective is clever, as the entire story is told through the dog's eyes. Enzo wants to be human, and thinks like a human, thus his perspective has been quite anthropomorphized - but that is part of the story. He tells us the tale of his own life, thereby narrating the tale of his master's life. And it is quite a life. The writing is meticulous and perfectly embodies the emotion that the author wishes to convey. I enjoyed the dog's personality, and some parts really made me laugh, as they were so perfectly written to describe mannerisms and activities that are often seen in my own dogs.

    So why three stars for the story? Much of it was predictable. The foreshadowing was too obvious in many places. It was very emotional (see above) which made it difficult to enjoy the story for its merits, as I was too busy trying not to bawl as I drove down the freeway. After my first two hour drive with the book, I made it a "listen at home only" book and just listened to it when I had free time or when I was walking the dog. So, for my purposes - staying awake on a long commute - the story didn't fit the bill. I could go into more detail, but I don't want to add any spoilers in here. Suffice it to say, I needed something more lighthearted and less real. (I should also note here that my occupation also prejudices me against the book, as I deal with one of the main storylines on a regular basis, and I read to escape my life, not relive it.)

    The bottom line? If you like a good cry, read this book. If you love dogs, and can handle the emotional side of dog ownership, read this book. If you listen to audiobooks in public and tend to think your dogs are people too, save this one for a rainy day.

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