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Julie W. Capell

The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history

Milwaukee, WI USA | Member Since 2007

402
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 126 reviews
  • 155 ratings
  • 303 titles in library
  • 22 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
21

  • METAtropolis: Cascadia

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Elizabeth Bear, and others
    • Narrated By Rene Auberjonois, Kate Mulgrew, Wil Wheaton, and others
    Overall
    (777)
    Performance
    (513)
    Story
    (511)

    This sequel to the Hugo and Audie Award nominated METAtropolis features interconnected stories by today’s top writers of speculative fiction – performed by a galaxy of Star Trek stars. As the mid-20th century approaches, the Pacific Northwest has been transformed - politically, economically, and ecologically - into the new reality of Cascadia. Conspiracies and secrets threaten the tenuous threads of society. And the End of Days seems nearer than ever.

    Stephen says: "Some good, some bad"
    "Outstanding narration carries the day here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the second anthology in a series that began with METAtropolis: the Dawn of Uncivilization. This collection riffs off the first story in that anthology, taking place in a transnational entity that includes the geographical areas formerly known as British Columbia, Washington and Orgeon states. The stories are set around the year 2070 in post-industrial, post-capitalist, post-national world and are all read by actors from various incarnations of Star Trek.

    The first story, written by Jay Lake and read by Rene Auberjonois (immediately recognizable as Odo from Deep Space Nine) details a very old, very rich man’s final days as he searches for the answers to an event that occurred forty years earlier. I really enjoyed this story and the chance to revisit some of the characters from the original METAtropolis.

    The second story was written by Mary Robinette Kowal and narrated by Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway of Voyager). This was probably my least favorite of all the stories so far. It was mostly a love letter to the art of wine making that could have been set in any era and lacked a clear connection to the rest of the stories in these anthologies. For instance, as soon as I realized it was going to be about wine, I anticipated an explanation of a concept that has come up in a few of the other stories, where instead of money, some people have currency called ”winos.” But the term never even gets mentioned in this story . . . did Ms. Kowal miss the world-building sessions??

    The third story was written by Tobias S. Buckell and read by Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher of The Next Generation). The setting for this story presented another cool idea that was new to me. The main character is part of a crew whose job it is to de-construct expressways and empty suburban housing tracts. Having grown up in one of these anonymous suburbs (and escaped as soon as I could to a densely populated downtown neighborhood) I have to admit that I loved the scenes where the bulldozers crashed through the paperboard houses. If that’s not a big enough hint, other parts of the narrative extoll the virtues of cities, such as that more patents are produced by city-dwellers and city dwellers use less energy, particularly if you can figure out a way to grow food nearby. Like the stories in the first METAtropolis, this one has an extremely positive view of the future of cities, which is not all that common in post-apocalyptic literature.

    The next story was by Elizabeth Bear and read by Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher in The Next Generation). This is a bit of a more conventional scifi story involving genetic engineering, combined with a murder mystery plot. The twist at the end is foreshadowed pretty heavily and so was really no shock.

    Karl Schroeder once again takes the prize for most cool ideas in one story with his entry here, read by Jonathan Frakes (Comander Riker of The Next Generation). It begins with the protagonist wearing something like Google Glasses. Since he is a visitor to Cascadia without proper paperwork, he is mandated to wear them whenever he is out in public, and the glasses are programmed by the authorities to restrict what he sees. It’s a frightening vision of how state censorship could be implemented on a person-by-person basis in the future, just by using technology. And that’s just a side thought. The overall plot asks how will we recognize when computers and machines become self-aware, and mixes in questions about the rights of corporations . . . and others . . . to be treated as individuals in certain situations. It’s a complex plot that only a master like Schroeder can pull off.

    The final story in this collection was by Ken Scholes and narrated by LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge of The Next Generation). This one takes on home-grown terrorism, religious fanatics, and questions of faith in a post-apocalyptic era. A mediocre story that was significantly uplifted by Burton’s fantastic reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Being There

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Jerzy Kosinski
    • Narrated By Dustin Hoffman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (463)
    Story
    (461)

    Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman gives an understated and exemplary performance of this satiric look at the unreality of American media culture. Chance, the enigmatic gardener, becomes Chauncey Gardiner after getting hit by a limo belonging to a Wall Street tycoon. The whirlwind that follows brings Chance to his new status of political policy advisor and possible vice presidential candidate. His garden-variety political responses, inspired by television, become heralded as visionary, and he is soon a media icon.

    Ilana says: "Darkly Funny"
    "Hoffman has just the right touch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have a vague recollection of liking the movie based on this book, starring Peter Sellers, so when I saw it was an audio book read by Dustin Hoffman, I decided to pick it up. I figured it must be a pretty good novella, to have inspired a movie featuring an Academy Award-nominated performance and be read by another Acadamy Award winner. Like several other Audible titles read by gifted actors, this was a huge treat. Hoffman gives the protagonist, Chance, the lack of affect needed—definitely channeling his Rainman persona—and imbues the various business and political leaders who are beguiled by Chance’s simple words with just the right touch of hunger for power and deviousness. Well worth the listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neptune's Brood

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Charles Stross
    • Narrated By Emily Gray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (116)
    Story
    (116)

    The year is AD 7000. The human species is extinct - for the fourth time - due to its fragile nature. Krina Alizond-114 is metahuman, descended from the robots that once served humanity. She’s on a journey to the water-world of Shin-Tethys to find her sister Ana. But her trip is interrupted when pirates capture her ship. Their leader, the enigmatic Count Rudi, suspects that there’s more to Krina’s search than meets the eye.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Even without humans, finance rules"
    "Commerce amongst the stars"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged that every interstellar colony in search of good fortune must be in need of a banker.”

    This line, which comes early in “Neptune’s Brood,” pretty much sums up how I reacted to this surprisingly engaging sci-fi look at commerce amongst the stars. You do not need to be a Jane Austen fan to enjoy this book, but you’d better be ready to hear about interstellar economics leavened with a serving of very dry humor. This novel is for you if you enjoy lines like that one, or this:

    “Nothing concentrates the mind like starting a new management job In the middle of a space battle.”

    [I listened to this as an audio book read by Emily Gray, who did a fantastic job, giving the different post-humans varied voices and personalities that made them really come alive.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Our Lady of the Islands: Butchered God, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Shannon Page, Jay Lake
    • Narrated By Allyson Johnson
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Sian Katte is a successful, middle-aged businesswoman in the tropical island nation of Alizar. Her life seems comfortable and well arranged...until a violent encounter one evening leaves her with an unwanted magical power. Arian des Chances is the wife of Alizar's ruler, with vast wealth and political influence. Yet for all her resources, she can only watch helplessly as her son draws nearer to death. When crisis thrusts these two women together, they learn some surprising truths.

    Tango says: "Life Begins at 40"
    "Affirmingly female fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I appreciated two things in particular about this fantasy novel. First, the two main characters were middle-aged women. I cannot think of another fantasy or scifi novel where that is the case. I myself am a middle-aged woman but I believe many readers would enjoy the “turnabout” situations in the book, where what would normally be the “Hero” male characters are pretty helpless and it is the women who are truly courageous. My favorite example of this is when all the main male characters resort to violence only to find themselves helpless in a dungeon while the “helpless” women are out rescuing each other using non-violent solutions. This book definitely passes the Bechdel test!

    The second thing I really liked about the book was that the main character was a healer, and much of the plot hinges on healing and forgiveness. There are battles and danger, but the strongest passages are those in which the characters are forced to accept their own need to give and receive forgiveness.

    On the downside, the book was overlong and a bit on the simplistic side, as far as the plot and the setting.

    [I listened to this as an audio book read by Allyson Johnson. She did a fair job with the accents, but I ended up listening at 1.5 speed to get through this long journey].

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Alchemist and the Executioness

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias S. Buckell
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (755)
    Performance
    (376)
    Story
    (376)

    It is a world where magic is forbidden – yet practiced in secret every day. But each small act of magic exacts a dreadful price – for it brings the bramble, which chokes farmland, destroys villages, and kills with its deadly thorns. In this world an alchemist believes he’s found a solution to the curse. But will the cure be worse than the disease? And a woman is forced to take up the mantle of her father, the Executioner. But it will not be the only death that she faces.

    Rand says: "Not What I Expected..."
    "What if magic polluted the world?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely loved the world these two authors co-created for these linked novellas. That there would be negative consequences to magic is a completely unique idea, in my experience of fantasy literature. Bacigalupi took the concept and ran with it. His story, The Alchemist, featured a fully realized main character and was beautifully written, only faltering slightly at the end, which seemed to not really fit the rest of the story. The Executioness suffered in comparison. It felt one-dimensional and skirted dealing head-on with the essential dilemma. At the end, I was left with an unfinished feeling, as if there should have been a third story that would have solved the problem once and for all.

    [I listened to this as an audio book read by Jonathan Davis and Katherine Kellgren. Both did excellent jobs narrating. It seemed they coordinated their performances, deciding that the denizens of this world would speak with vaguely African sounding accents. This helped me feel like I had been transported to another realm and made the world of the book more real.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Birthright: The Book of Man

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Mike Resnick
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    This brilliant science fiction novel constructs a blueprint of mankind’s history - social, political, economic, scientific, and religious - for the next 18,000 years. Through a series of adventures, it illustrates clear, focused ideas about our birthright and our destiny. Since this 1982 debut, Mike Resnick has emerged as one of the most honored science fiction authors of his time, picking up 40-odd Hugo and Nebula nominations and awards. He has set 25 novels and a novella in the future that was outlined in this book.

    Julie W. Capell says: "B-O-R-I-N-G"
    "B-O-R-I-N-G"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Birthright?

    I love scifi but this book just didn't work for me. Too negative.


    What was most disappointing about Mike Resnick’s story?

    I only made it through the first story and part of the second one. No female characters, everything very negative, stories not connected except by the world being constructed by the author. Maybe if I had knowledge of other books set in this world I would have liked it more, but as a first "toe in the water" it just didn't hold my interest.


    What three words best describe Tom Weiner’s performance?

    Okay but not memorable.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Ummmm . . . not really


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Humans: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Matt Haig
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (136)
    Story
    (138)

    The critically acclaimed author of The Radleys shares a clever, heartwarming, and darkly insightful novel about an alien who comes to Earth to save humans from themselves. When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his first impressions of the human species are less than positive. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this weird species than he has been led to believe. Eventually, the narrator sees hope and redemption in the humans' imperfections and begins to question the very mission that brought him there.

    cristina says: "Adorable alien story"
    "Easy, funny and insightful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Funny and scifi seldom go together, but when they do and it works, it is a wonderful thing. “The Humans” managed to make me laugh out loud, many times. The observations about the human condition were often spot-on, going beyond the trite to really make me think in a few cases. Overall, an enjoyable read that I think is particularly accessible to people who wouldn’t normally read scifi.

    [I listened to this as an audio book read by Mark Meadows, who did a fantastic job. I think this is a case in which listening would be better than reading the book, because Mr. Meadows’ delivery added a lot to the droll nature of the humor.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Circle

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1387)
    Performance
    (1241)
    Story
    (1251)

    When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity.

    Suzn F says: "Big Brother Employer"
    "Not for hard-core scifi fans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Maybe I have read too many dystopian sci-fi novels, but this book just did not capture my interest. However, after listening to my book club discuss it, I realize that for people who do not spend a lot of time thinking about the “dark side” of technology and social media, “The Circle” can be a real revelation. What I thought was trite and hackneyed, most of the people in my book club thought was brilliant, revelatory and scary. One person came up to me after the meeting and said “I never knew science fiction could be like this! I want to read more!” If that was your reaction to this book, I would recommend you pick up “The Traveler” by John Twelve Hawks. And if you already love science fiction and were disappointed by “the Circle,” go ahead and pick up “The Traveler,” because it will restore your faith in the ability of scifi to warn us about dangers ahead without hitting us over the head with a sledge hammer.

    [I listened to this as an audio book performed by Dion Graham. As has happened before when I listen to a book for my book club that most others read in hard copy, my experience of the book was significantly different. I don’t attribute that entirely to the performance, but I did question the decision to have a man read a book in which the main character is a young woman in her early 20’s, as are many of the other characters. On top of that, the narrator made all these millennials, including the male characters, sound like valley girls—everything they said came out like questions. It was all pretty annoying and diminished my enjoyment of the novel.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Burgess Boys: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (654)
    Performance
    (557)
    Story
    (562)

    Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home.

    Molly-o says: "Loved, loved, loved it!"
    "Was I supposed to care about these characters?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I decided after the first hour that I just didn’t care about the characters in this novel. The first warning sign was when I had to listen to the prologue three times. The first two times, when I got to the end of the chapter, I realized my attention had wandered so much that I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know who was who, who was telling the story about who, what the time frames of the different stories were. I don’t think my confusion was due to anything particularly complex about the story. It’s just that all the people were so bland I couldn’t tell them apart. The characters have the names “Jim” and “Bob” and “Sue” and “Margaret” and “Helen.” Someone has had multiple marriages. Someone has a son that suffered a mysterious tragedy. Or maybe it’s the whole family that has suffered a mysterious tragedy. At the end of the prologue, you are supposed to care enough about these individuals to want to listen to another 13 hours. It reminded me a little bit of the setup in the fabulous “The Dinner” by Herman Koch but without the hilarious snarkiness and unshakeable sense of impending disaster. I don’t know if it was the performance or the book or both, but I simply couldn’t muster up enough interest in the Burgess family to want to know what happened to them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris
    Overall
    (4151)
    Performance
    (3767)
    Story
    (3746)

    From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new collection of essays taking his listeners on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences.

    FanB14 says: "Devout Fan Disappointed"
    "Good until the last couple of stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another very enjoyable “listen” from Sedaris. I love listening to his essays on long car rides; this book was everything I have come to expect from him, generating lots of chuckles and several laugh-out-loud moments. The only part I was disappointed in was the last couple of stories. He introduces them by saying he can’t understand why kids in forensics use his stories, because he doesn’t think they’re “performable.” Huh? This from a guy who makes a tidy living performing his essays out loud? As if that weren’t confusing enough, he then says he wrote the rest of the essays just for the kids in forensics, and goes on to read some of the absolute worst, most un-funny stories I have ever heard from him. I knocked this down to three stars because of these weird and inappropriate stories at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Joseph Conrad
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1894)
    Performance
    (1605)
    Story
    (1611)

    A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.

    Harold says: "From Civilization into Darkness"
    "Undeserving time-honored classic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this novella mostly incomprehensible. Oh, there is clearly a critique of imperialism, as many reviewers point out. But it seems to me, the critique is not that the colonizers (in this case, Belgians) are raping Africa of its natural resources (ivory) and enslaving its people. Rather, the book seems to be lamenting that good, white Europeans become tainted upon encountering Africa. The Africans are all depicted as sub-human, and the continent as a malevolent entity. I understand that attitudes were far different when Conrad wrote this in 1898 than they are today. Reading novels from other time periods allows one to better understand how thinking has changed . . . or not changed. However, I fail to understand the attention this novella has attracted . . . most of what happens just makes no sense at all. Reviews from readers who appear to be deeper thinkers than myself indicate that Kurtz is somehow the embodiment of Evil, but whatever it is he did is never explained. Characters go on and on about how eloquent he is, how smart he is, how he has a Grand Plan . . . but we are never shown any evidence that these things are the case. The viewpoint character, Marlow, alternates between admiration of the evil Kurtz, and abhorrence of . . . whatever horrible unnamed thing Kurtz has done. The most overrated 200 pages I have ever read. The only thing that made me finish it was the fact that I was listening to it as an audiobook performed by Kenneth Branagh, and I just didn’t want to turn off his fabulous voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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