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Julie W. Capell

notthe1

Milwaukee, WI USA | Member Since 2007

273
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 101 reviews
  • 130 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 39 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
14

  • The Historian

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Kostova
    • Narrated By Joanne Whalley, Dennis Boutsikaris, Rosalyn Landor, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2820)
    Performance
    (1169)
    Story
    (1182)

    Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of: a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

    Branden says: "Phenomenallly detailed..."
    "Drop by Drop, a pretty engaging read"
    Overall

    Another entry in the genre I like to call "DaVinci Code-esque" in which a nerdy researcher-university type gets caught up in international intrigue while following a variety of research clues that make some nefarious person want to kill them. Throw in the Dracula legend and you have The Historian. Not as frenetically paced as other novels in the genre, it managed to include enough details of vampire lore without leeching the life out of the story and enough details about the characters' inner lives to make it more than a typical adventure story.

    The author is good enough to be able to move her plot between several timeframes decades apart without making the book hopelessly complicated. This sometimes overused device works well here to maintain suspense and drip clues to the reader drop by bloody drop.

    I enjoyed my audiobook version since I didn't have to carry around this 700+ page behemoth, just load it onto my phone and listen to the wonderful narrators as I took my morning exercise walks through the woods.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Marc Thompson, Jonathan Davis, Daniel Davis, and others
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (64)

    Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare's Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Something Wookiee this way comes!

    Amazon Customer says: "Tis a Worthy Conclusion"
    "NOT a one-trick pony"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike other mashups that are nothing more but thinly veiled attempts to make money off of venerable titles (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, the most obvious example), this trilogy is definitely NOT a one-trick pony. Hard to believe, but each installment actually got better. That is saying a lot, since I thought the first book was amazing, and “Return of the Jedi” was my least favorite movie of the original trilogy. But Doescher clearly took great pains to honor both of the great legacies to which he is beholden. And the production values on the audio versions of these books is among the best I have ever encountered. Music from the actual movie soundtrack is expertly inserted in just the right places, the actors’ voices are very close to those of the original actors, and there is also an afterword read by Doescher in which he explains some of the techniques he used to combine his two inspirations.

    One thing I really liked about the whole trilogy which I didn’t mention in my reviews of the other two books is the way Doescher assumes the listener/reader has seen the prequel movies. The sly references to the prequels made me laugh out loud, for instance, in this installment when the ghost of Obi-wan makes a comment about midi-chlorians.

    To anyone who is a lover of Star Wars, I cannot recommend these three audiobooks more highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Things They Carried

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tim O'Brien
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1199)
    Performance
    (1111)
    Story
    (1101)

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

    Darwin8u says: "Grief, terror, love, longing"
    "Powerful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Simply one of the most powerful books I have ever read. So heart-wrenching, so true, it is difficult to find my own true words to describe the experience that is this author’s journey into himself, and into every soldier, and into all of us. By allowing the reader into his memories, Tim O’Brien uses story to save himself now, to save himself in Vietnam, to save himself as a young boy. So this book is not only about a specific war, not only about war in general, but it is about life and the power of words.

    I must add that I listened to this as an audio book read by Bryan Cranston, who was devastatingly perfect. Also, the audio book has a bonus track that is well worth listening to, featuring Tim O’Brien reading his essay “The Vietnam in Me.”

    I must end this review with transcripts of some of my favorite passages from the book, because I never want to forget them.

    All of us, I suppose, like to believe that in a moral emergency we will behave like the heroes of our youth, bravely and forthrightly, without thought of personal loss or discredit. Certainly that was my conviction back in the summer of 1968. Tim O'Brien: a secret hero. The Lone Ranger. If the stakes ever became high enough—if the evil were evil enough, if the good were good enough—I would simply tap a secret reservoir of courage that had been accumulating inside me over the years. Courage, I seemed to think, comes to us in finite quantities, like an inheritance, and by being frugal and stashing it away and letting it earn interest, we steadily increase our moral capital in preparation for that day when the account must be drawn down. It was a comforting theory. It dispensed with all those bothersome little acts of daily courage; it offered hope and grace to the repetitive coward; it justified the past while amortizing the future.

    A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.

    I'm skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story.

    And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That's what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.

    [from “The Vietnam in Me”] … Vietnam was more than terror. For me at least, Vietnam was partly love. With each step, each light year of a second, a foot soldier is always almost dead, or so it feels, In such circumstances, you can’t help but love. You love your mom and dad, the Vikings, hamburgers on the grill, your pulse, your future, everything that might be lost, or never come to be. Intimacy with death carries with it a corresponding new intimacy with life. Jokes are funnier, green is greener, you love the musky morning air. You love the miracle of your own enduring capacity for love.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, and others
    Overall
    (113)
    Performance
    (108)
    Story
    (108)

    Hot on the heels of the New York Times bestseller William Shakespeare's Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare's The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. These two plays offer essential listening for all ages.

    Amazon Customer says: "Liked the first one? You'll love the sequel."
    "What I didn't like: NOTHING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even though I am a huge Star Wars fan (and have six different Star Wars costumes in my closet to prove it) and also love Shakespeare, I approached this mashup with trepidation. I thought, well, I’ll get the first one because my geek cred will suffer if I don’t check this out. But the audio version of “Verily, A New Hope” was so damned good that I immediately downloaded the other two installments and ended up binge-listening to all three in less than a week.

    What I liked:

    Soliloquys that reveal the characters’ inner thoughts (especially the space slug!!)
    Storm Troopers as comic relief (particularly one section where they sound like two geeky fanboys as they speculate about the possible reasons why every structure the Empire builds has a huge chasm next to the pedestrian walkways)

    Singing Ugnaughts

    C3PO’s “Seven stages of war” speech (an alternate take on the “seven ages of man” speech from As You Like It)

    The voices of the actors, each perfectly suited to the characters, but particularly Obi-wan

    Han and Leia as Romeo and Juliet

    What I didn’t like: NOTHING!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's Star Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (285)
    Performance
    (268)
    Story
    (267)

    Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare's greatest plays. 'Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

    Amazon Customer says: "To Thine Ears, Brilliance This Doth Be!"
    "If you love Star Wars, you'll love this"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike other mashups that are nothing more but thinly veiled attempts to make money off of venerable titles (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, the most obvious example), this trilogy is definitely NOT a one-trick pony. Hard to believe, but each installment actually got better. That is saying a lot, since I thought the first book was amazing, and “Return of the Jedi” was my least favorite movie of the original trilogy. But Doescher clearly took great pains to honor both of the great legacies to which he is beholden. And the production values on the audio versions of these books is among the best I have ever encountered. Music from the actual movie soundtrack is expertly inserted in just the right places, the actors’ voices are very close to those of the original actors, and there is also an afterword read by Doescher in which he explains some of the techniques he used to combine his two inspirations.

    One thing I really liked about the whole trilogy which I didn’t mention in my reviews of the other two books is the way Doescher assumes the listener/reader has seen the prequel movies. The sly references to the prequels made me laugh out loud, for instance, in this installment when the ghost of Obi-wan makes a comment about midi-chlorians.

    To anyone who is a lover of Star Wars, I cannot recommend these three audiobooks more highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8415)
    Performance
    (8008)
    Story
    (8022)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "Best book about Mars I have read yet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a wonderful combination of hard science, science fiction and humor. Other than John Scalzi, I can’t think of any science fiction author who does as good a job with humor. Listening to this as an audio book made the humor that much more enjoyable. The performer put just the right amount of flippancy into his voice as he read the daily log entries of the protagonist, an astronaut who is just trying to get home. Some of the funny parts that made me laugh out loud included the ode to duct tape: “Yes of course duct tape works in a near vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.” Also the protagonist’s listing of all the songs on the ipod that had something to do with his situation (Life on Mars, Rocket Man , Alone Again-Naturally , and Stayin’ Alive).

    But the author wasn’t all about the laughs. There were plenty of very interesting science sections, like when the protagonist described how he synthesized water, or prepared the soil to grow potatoes, or used a pack of plutonium to provide heat without irradiating himself. All these sections were clearly very well researched, but were written in a way that was very accessible and understandable. Many parts reminded me strongly of the book “Apollo: The Race to the Moon” by Charles Murray, particularly the parts describing how the team back at NASA would troubleshoot the challenges being encountered on the mission. By including the technicians back on Earth and their troubleshooting, the author avoided the mistake that many fiction novels make--focusing exclusively on the astronauts, ignoring the vital role played by the hundreds of experts at Mission Control, without whom the space flights would be impossible.

    Still, I thought the author’s decision to tell most of the story from the first person perspective of Mark Watney, the stranded astronaut, was brilliant. The few chapters that moved away from Mars and told what was happening on Earth spoiled some of the magic, breaking the sense of isolation I felt when the only person’s voice was Mark Watney’s. That magic was so powerful that I actually got a bit verklempt a couple of times. If you are fascinated by real space flight and like to think about things like the logistics of what it would really take to get a man on Mars, you should definitely read this book. Best book about Mars I have read yet.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lock In (Narrated by Amber Benson)

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Amber Benson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (293)
    Performance
    (263)
    Story
    (271)

    Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

    Anthony says: "Love Amber's Narration"
    "Strongest Scalzi in years"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The strongest Scalzi novel in the past few years, Lock In builds a near-future world that the reader can actually imagine coming into being. The action begins about 20 years after a devastating disease has literally decimated the human race. Horrifically, many of those who contract the disease but don’t perish experience “lock in,” meaning they lose all motor control of their bodies while remaining mentally awake and aware. In the decades since the disease first appeared, some solutions have been found that free these individuals from their solitary confinement; one solution allows the locked-in person to remotely operate a robot using only their mind.

    The novel’s protagonist, Chris, uses a robot to interact with the world, leading close to a “normal” life. In fact, Chris has just graduated and become an FBI agent. The hook that gets us into the story is a strange crime that Chris must unravel. The twists and turns of the plot feature lots of the Scalzi inventiveness and wit that frequent readers will immediately recognize. Chris is the usual Scalzi protagonist, exhibiting the same dry sense of humor and sharp reasoning ability (much like the main characters in Old Man’s War or Fuzzy Nation).

    But I have to give huge kudos to Scalzi for making Chris gender neutral, by which I mean, the reader is never given a hint as to whether Chris is a male or a female. I don’t know if I would have noticed this, except for the fact that the audiobook is available in two versions. One is performed by Wil Wheaton, who has performed nearly all of Scalzi’s other audiobooks. Because I think Wheaton does a great job interpreting Scalzi’s works, I initially listened to his version of the book and assumed Chris was male. But then something happened to the audio file and the Wheaton version wouldn’t work anymore, so I switched over to the other version, read by Amber Benson. And then it hit me: Chris could be female. This duality added greatly to my appreciation of the novel, and made me bump it up to 5 stars.

    Lock In is a fully complete novel with no overt cliffhangers, but I must say that I really, really hope Scalzi writes a follow-up. The audio book includes a novella at the end called “Unlocked” which I thought was EVEN BETTER than the novel itself. Make sure you read the novella to get the full impact of the world Scalzi has created. Even better than a sequel would be a television series!!

    [I increased the listening speed of the Amber Benson version of the book to 1.25 speed, because her style was just too slow for me. It sounded normal at the higher speed and was much more enjoyable.]

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Short Stories, Volume II

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Ernest Hemingway
    • Narrated By Stacy Keach
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (34)

    Before he gained wide fame as a novelist, Ernest Hemingway established his literary reputation with his short stories. Set in the varied landscapes of Spain, Africa, and the Americam Midwest, this definitive audio collection traces the development and maturation of Hemingway's distinct and revolutionary storytelling style: from the plain bald language of the first story to his mastery of seamless prose that contained a spare, eloquent pathos, as well as a sense of expansive solitude.

    chris says: "Flat out amazing"
    "Manly writing from another era"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was probably not the best book to make my first dive into Ernest Hemingway, but I got it on discount at Audible. The famously terse writing was certainly distinctive and I was struck by the every-day-ness of the subject matter. Detailed descriptions of trout fishing or horse races were certainly a far cry from my usual science fiction reading. Generally, the stories were very masculine, and seemed stuck in time, a Humphrey Bogart time when men talked like gangsters and lived off the land or went to war. The real revelation for me was the fantastic performance by Stacey Keach. He gave each character a subtle accent where many lesser actors would go over-the-top.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jules Verne
    • Narrated By Tim Curry
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1210)
    Performance
    (1019)
    Story
    (1004)

    A Signature Performance: Tim Curry, the source of our inspiration, returns – this time, he captures the quirky enthusiasm of this goofily visionary adventure.

    Ramon says: "Feels like Jules Verne"
    "Really puts the “science” in science fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I first read this book when I was a very young girl, and it is amazing how much of it I recalled upon re-reading it 40 years later. Certainly, the details have faded from my memory, but as I listened to the audiobook (given a glorious reading by Tim Curry) I felt myself transported to my early childhood. I felt again the fascination for geology, paleontology and archeology this book and other similar ones engendered in me. For the book is a veritable encyclopedia of vocabulary and theories from these disciplines. No matter that many of the concepts are outdated, any young person with an interest in the sciences would find the tale of the “savant” Professor Lidenbrock, his fearful nephew Axel and their intrepid guide Hans fascinating. I recall looking up many of the words in a dictionary as I read, and am certain that this book played a key role in my lifelong interest in science and science fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Tom Reiss
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    Overall
    (367)
    Performance
    (325)
    Story
    (329)

    Father of the novelist Alexandre Dumas, Alex Dumas has become, through his son's books, the model for a captivating modern protagonist: The wronged man in search of justice. Born to a black slave mother and a fugitive white French nobleman in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but then made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. He was only 32 when he was given command of 53,000 men, the reward for series of triumphs that many regarded as impossible, and then topped his previous feats by leading a raid up a frozen cliff face....

    Jean says: "Truth more unbelivable than fiction"
    "Have fun while you learn"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of those biographies that, once you hear about it, you can’t believe it took this long for someone to write. Who knew Alexandre Dumas was of black African ancestry? Not me! Who knew his father was the definition of a swashbuckler IRL? Who knew that France emancipated blacks decades before Great Britain and the US? I learned something new practically on every page of this outstanding account. I learned about slavery in the French-held islands of the Caribbean, about the French Revolution, about why all those people were getting guillotined, about the Napoleonic Wars . . . so many things that my high school and college history classes never covered. And all of it told in a fast-paced, fascinating narrative that entertained as much as it informed. A top-notch read, highly recommended.

    [I listened to this as an audio book read impeccably well by Paul Michael]

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sleep Donation: A Novella

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Karen Russell
    • Narrated By Greta Gerwig
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    A crisis has swept America. Hundreds of thousands have lost the ability to sleep. Enter the Slumber Corps, an organization that urges healthy dreamers to donate sleep to an insomniac. Under the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers the Corps' reach has grown, with outposts in every major US city. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia, has spent the past seven years recruiting for the Corps. But Trish's faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter.

    FanB14 says: "Clever Insomnia Epidemic Diary"
    "I recommend this for donors and fundraisers alike"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think a lot of people will pick up this novella thinking it is science fiction, and be disappointed. It does take a bit of current science (lots of people nowadays have trouble sleeping, need to take sleep aid drugs) and extrapolates (what if all the sleep aid drugs stopped working and people started dying due to lack of sleep?) but that extrapolation goes in a completely unexpected direction.

    Most scifi authors, given this premise, would spend a lot more time delving into the changes that such a “sleeplessness epidemic” would cause, such as changes to the economy or society. One book that did a pretty good job with the same concept is “Sleepless” by Charlie Huston.

    But it turns out that “Sleep Donation” is more about the “donation” part of the title than it is about “sleep.” Anyone who is a professional fundraiser (my chosen profession for the past 30 years) will immediately recognize that this novella is, in fact, an insightful examination of the culture of philanthropy in this country.

    The main character, Trish, works for a nonprofit where she recruits people to donate their healthy sleep in order to keep those affected with sleeplessness alive (Trish = fundraiser/major gifts officer). She tells the tragic, true story of the death of her sister over and over to convince others to donate (think of the campaigns used by those charities that want you to sponsor kids in third world countries which feature photos of starving, sick or deformed children). She discovers her bosses are not using the donations for their intended purpose (a violation of Fundraising Ethics 101). Trish is faced with two decisions: Should she continue to exploit the memory of her sister’s death to produce new donations for her nonprofit? Should she expose the fraudulent use of the donations, which could make people to stop donating, thereby indirectly causing some of the sleepless to die? (A clear parallel to recent criticisms of agencies accused of misusing donations they received for Hurricane Sandy or the earthquake in Haiti).

    I have never read a novel that dealt with these issues before, and I was fascinated. Nonprofit and fundraising professionals, already familiar with such professional ethical dilemnas, will appreciate thinking about them in a new context. The general public, or at least anyone who has ever made a donation to a nonprofit, will gain a greater understanding of the complex issues that lie behind the business of philanthropy and donations.

    [I listened to this as an audio book read by Greta Gerwig, who did a very good job. Unfortunately, as others have noted, the editing of her performance should have allowed a beat or two of silence at the end of each chapter, but this is something I easily ignored.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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