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Julie W. Capell

notthe1

Milwaukee, WI USA | Member Since 2007

336
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 106 reviews
  • 135 ratings
  • 265 titles in library
  • 48 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
14

  • Embassytown

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By China Mieville
    • Narrated By Susan Duerden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (470)
    Performance
    (348)
    Story
    (352)

    China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war. In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak....

    D says: "must hear to fully appreciate."
    "Incredibly original novel, narration fantastic"
    Overall

    With this book, China Mieville proves he has one of the most original voices in modern American literature. Of course, to the casual observer, the weird aliens, strange technology and bizarre geography that form the surface of most science fiction seem original, but the truth is that a lot of scifi is hackneyed and repetitive. There are no new stories, only retreads of a few standard plots that regularly make the rounds. Humanity is always right, the bad guy will get his comeuppance, and the hero will get the girl. And not to nit pick, but the linguist in me often wonders why every alien we encounter magically speaks American English, or has a translator gizmo that has no problem figuring out a new lexicon in a matter of hours (and this is worse on TV or in the movies, where the Magic Translator often figures things out within minutes or even seconds).

    Not so in Embassytown. The humans living on this backwater world at the far edge of the galaxy know they are only there at the sufferance of the native beings, but due to a language barrier, they don’t know much more than that. The aliens of the planet Ariekei are so different from humans, think so differently, see life from such a different angle, that communication with them is nearly impossible, even after many generations. Mieville unfolds his story bit by bit, so that the reader has an impartial understanding of what is actually going on, just as do all of the characters in the book. The true depth of the misunderstanding unfolds slowly, but each revelation is fascinating and makes the reader yearn to learn more about the mysterious Hosts.

    I don’t want to say more because it might give away too much. I want to acknowledge that I listened to this as an audio book read by Susan Duerden. Her narration was wonderful, and included some excellent sound effects that helped me “hear” what the Ariekei Language *might* sound like.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Odalisque: Book Three of The Baroque Cycle

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble, Katherine Kellgren, Kevin Pariseau, and others
    Overall
    (583)
    Performance
    (360)
    Story
    (363)

    The trials of Dr. Daniel Waterhouse and the Natural Philosophers increase one-hundred fold in an England plagued by the impending war and royal insecurities - as the beautiful and ambitious Eliza plays a most dangerous game as double agent and confidante of enemy kings.

    Evelyn says: "Great book"
    "It's the journey, not the destination"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think listening to this as an audio book is probably the very best way to experience it. There are long stretches that are letters written by Eliza, which by their nature involved long explanations of things Eliza had done. I wish the author had simply shown Eliza interacting with people and her environment, since she is such an unusual and compelling female protagonist. Seeing her primarily through her letters made her feel more distant, although she does explain lots of interesting things about early commerce, such as how insurance began (Lloyd's was originally a coffee shop!), how to be an effective spy, and how to use binary code encrypted in needlepoint to send coded messages. Still, I found my mind drifting at times, and thought more than once that if I had been reading this as a hard copy book, I probably would have given up. But the audio performers do a lovely job of pulling the listener along on this fantastic voyage, in much the same way that a really good Shakespearean actor can make you understand the meaning of what is being said, even if you don't comprehend every word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • King of the Vagabonds: Book Two of The Baroque Cycle

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson
    Overall
    (824)
    Performance
    (525)
    Story
    (533)

    A chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe - London street urchin-turned-legendary swashbuckling adventurer - risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox...and Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent a contentious continent through the newborn power of finance.

    Dale says: "Less Math Fiction, More Action"
    "Memorable for introducing a great female character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book I found considerably less interesting than Quicksilver, dealing as it does primarily with the decidedly picaresque adventures of a vagabond. He hooks up with Eliza, the only female character of the book, who quickly establishes herself as the brains of their partnership. Once she gets to Amsterdam and begins to manipulate both men and their money, she becomes one of the most interesting female characters I have come across in quite some time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Quicksilver: Book One of The Baroque Cycle

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson
    Overall
    (1759)
    Performance
    (1013)
    Story
    (1040)

    In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe -- in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

    David says: "Be aware of what you're getting into"
    "Listening makes easy work of this long novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are a lot of reasons one might be tempted to skip this book (too long, not interested in old English history, no female characters, no plot), but one very good reason to pick it up: amazing writing. Although the themes of this novel and Snow Crash (still my favorite Stephenson novel) couldn’t be more different, the same brilliant writing is present in each. In Quicksilver, Stephenson fascinates with an account of the beginnings of modern science in the 1600s in England, throwing in a good bit of English history to boot. Want to know why coins have little markings on their sides? How sundials work? When the burning of London happened? What kinds of experiments the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge did in the first years after its founding? It’s all here, along with pirates, religion, politics, wars and blunderbusses. There’s barely a plot to hold it all together, but still I couldn’t put it down. I am definitely going to be reading the next book in the series.

    [I listened to this as an audio book performed by Simon Prebble and Kevin Pariseau. They did a marvelous job. I decided to listen at 1.25 speed, which was great, really made the book fly by. I finished in about a week! I would highly recommend this as a truly enjoyable listen.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight at the Well of Souls

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Jack L. Chalker
    • Narrated By Peter Macon
    Overall
    (184)
    Performance
    (165)
    Story
    (166)

    At the heart of a bizarre planet lay the goal of every being that had ever lived.… Below average in height and unprepossessing in appearance, Nathan Brazil is an unassuming if cynical starship owner, carrying passengers and cargo for a living - hardly the sort of person to hold the fate of the entire universe in his hands. But when Nathan detours from his route to answer a distress call, a hidden stargate hurls him and his passengers to the Well World, the master control planet for the cosmos. Billions of years ago, a godlike race unlocked all the secrets of space and time and remade the universe according to their grand design.

    Michael says: "Step Through The Portal, And Be Changed Forever!"
    "Good intro to scifi for a teen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I just re-read this book [to be accurate, I should say I listened to it as an audio book] and have to say it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it being. Reminiscent of both the Ringworld and Riverworld books, this novel sets up a premise that allows the author to jam together a bunch of things that would not normally be side-by-side, and then takes the reader on an extensive tour. Sure, the worldbuilding is impressive, but somehow the sum is not greater than the parts.

    I do think this book would be a good introduction to scifi for an early teen. There are quite a few interesting ideas, including one passage in which a character ruminates on whether plant life would be more likely to develop intellectually than animal life, because plants don’t have to spend so much of their time looking for food. There are also several neat passages in which Chalker does a great job describing how the world would look through alien eyes—an insect and an antelope are the ones I recall the most vividly. Also, different types of reproduction, including sexual and non-sexual, are explained, most memorably one passage in which one of the main characters undergoes “twinning.” Some of the final questions posed (such as how does any one person know what changes could put the world on the “right” track) were concepts a teenager might find mind-blowing, but many adults will find overly preachy.

    About that ending: I wish the resolution would have veered more obviously into the scientific realm, the theoretical physics behind multiverses and universal constants. Was 1978 too early for that? I don’t know. As it is, the book’s resolution felt more like hand-wavium and seemed a paltry payoff for such a long book.

    [Because the book was so long, and the narration so slow, I listened to this at 1.25 speed and that seemed just fine.]

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Gabrielle Zevin
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (812)
    Performance
    (730)
    Story
    (736)

    The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books - the only bookstore on Alice Island - has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go. One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children’s section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her.

    B. Sorensen says: "A Tale for Booksellers"
    "Simplistic and saccharine"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was just a “meh” book for me. Nothing wrong with it really, but nothing that really made me sit up and take notice. Definitely an ode to bookstores and literature, and the characters were sweet, but the story struck me as simplistic and the tone overly saccharine.

    [I listened to this as an Audible book read by Scott Brick. I typically enjoy Mr. Brick’s narration, but for this one, I had to listen at 1.5 speed, otherwise the narration was agonizingly slow]

    0 of 1 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
    (83)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (79)

    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
    (1353)
    Performance
    (1256)
    Story
    (1247)

    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
    (134)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (128)

    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
    (322)
    Performance
    (302)
    Story
    (302)

    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
    (10627)
    Performance
    (10113)
    Story
    (10130)

    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

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