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Karin W.

Fantasy and Romance Author

Dublin, CA USA | Member Since 2008

158
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 36 reviews
  • 99 ratings
  • 449 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
14

  • How to Train Your Dragon

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Cressida Cowell
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    Overall
    (351)
    Performance
    (245)
    Story
    (245)

    Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III may be the son of the brave leader of the mighty Viking tribe the Hairy Hooligans, but he certainly doesn’t feel very heroic. When Hiccup and the other boys his age are challenged to pick baby dragons from the dragon nursery, Hiccup actually manages to catch a small one. But now how will he train his stubborn new pet?

    Susan says: "Not the same as the movie"
    "Charming story, terrific performance!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As other reviewers have noted, the plot of the book is quite different from the movie, but both are cute, inventive, and entertaining. This audiobook, while short, was a great choice for both adults and kids. I listened to this book in the car while on a longer drive with my niece and nephew, and they actually requested that we sit in the car for a while after arriving at our destination to finish listening to a chapter! Terrific performance by Gerard Doyle!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Calculating God

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Robert J. Sawyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2128)
    Performance
    (1507)
    Story
    (1521)

    In this Hugo-nominated novel, an alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer, Hollus, asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho.

    Ione says: "Interesting book, very enjoyable narration"
    "Talky and kind of slow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book when Audible offered it for $3.95, and while I did finish listening all the way to the end, I'm glad that I didn't pay full price for it, or use up one of my credits.

    It wasn't a bad book, and had a very interesting premise, but after an amusing first chapter when the alien Hollus shows up at the ROM, the bulk of the novel was basically a long philosophical discourse on evolution, intelligent design, religion, mortality, and ethics.

    Which is fine for a work of non-fiction, but as a novel, this book definitely fell flat for me, mostly because the hero's journey from disbelief to grudging belief in a god proceeded at an absolutely glacial pace.

    There was a rather clumsy attempt at creating some action via the introduction of two American Christian fundamentalist terrorists, but that came fairly late in the book and felt tacked-on rather than an integral part of the story (probably because the story switches POV to a police officer who is around for two brief scenes, then completely disappears from the narrative). Also adding to the tacked-on impression is the fact that the terrorists are targeting the museum's fossil exhibition, not the visiting aliens, and the main characters are caught up in the events purely by coincidence.

    In between the alien's arrival and the terrorist attack, most of the chapters involve either long discourses between the alien and the paleontologist Thomas Jericho, or Jericho arguing with himself about whether he can accept the possibility of intelligent design, and worrying about his terminal cancer.

    Honestly, this book felt like several episodes of COSMOS sandwiched in between a couple of chapters of actual science fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Roger Zelazny
    • Narrated By Alessandro Juliani
    Overall
    (1637)
    Performance
    (1474)
    Story
    (1491)

    Amber is the one real world, of which all others including our own Earth are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin's blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne.

    Joe says: "Great begining of the series"
    "Great performance, so-so story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Loved Juliani's skillful narration of this book, but I had a hard time caring about Corwin, the book's narrator. Written in a style frequently reminiscent of hard-boiled detective novels, awkwardly combined with the occasional bit of pseudo-Elizabethan dialog, this very short book follows the adventures of a man who wakes up, amnesiac, in a private hospital, and makes a daring escape, followed by the eventual revelation of his true identity as a royal price of Amber, a kingdom located in a alternate universe.

    Once he discovers who he is (and that he's part of a large brood of seemingly-immortal, mostly-amoral siblings), he reveals himself to be mostly self-centered, ambitious, and ruthless, with occasional flashes of decency and compassion (though not enough to make him a very sympathetic character). His goal--to prevail against his other brothers, and seize the throne of his late father.

    To do this, he forms and breaks alliances with various of his other brothers and sisters, and recruits a huge army of gullible aliens who believe him a god, to use as cannon-fodder. He promptly gets every last one of his followers killed in an ill-advised attack upon Amber, and his own life is in grave peril.

    Where the book failed to spark my interest in listening to subsequent volumes is that I simply didn't care whether Corwin became king, or one of his other brothers. They all seemed equally arrogant and awful to me, the entitled, privileged scions who considered all those not of royal blood to be mere pawns in their game of thrones.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • David Attenborough - Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By David Attenborough
    • Narrated By David Attenborough
    Overall
    (197)
    Performance
    (146)
    Story
    (145)

    His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited. In this volume of memoirs David tells stories of the people and animals he has met and the places that he has visited. Over the last 25 years he has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several landmark BBC series.

    Liviu says: "Made me think about childhood dreams"
    "An absolute delight!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I grew up watching Attenborough's wildlife documentaries on PBS, and found this book an absolute joy to listen to--fascinating and frequently-hilarious anecdotes of his globetrotting adventures, skillfully-narrated by the man himself.

    He's a man who loves animals and people, and his joy in his experiences and discoveries, as well as his deep respect for the various people he met, really came across in this memoir.

    One of the best books I've listened to this year--I was actually disappointed on the days when my commute ran smoothly, because it meant less time with David Attenborough in Africa, or Australia, or South America, or Tonga, or...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2292)
    Performance
    (1829)
    Story
    (1830)

    After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke Lamora and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can't rest for long - and they are soon back doing what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves.

    Anthony says: "This is how you write a series!"
    "Entertaining romp...with pirates!"
    Overall
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    What does Michael Page bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Love the narrator for this series. He's got one of those plummy "Royal Shakespeare Theatre" voices, and is doing a fabulous job performing the different characters. His performance definitely adds a lot to the entertainment value of the story.


    Any additional comments?

    This sequel to the inventive and witty LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA proved to be just as entertaining as the first book in the series. In the wake of the events in the first novel, Locke and his best friend Jean arrive in a new city. They've managed to triumph over overwhelming odds, but the two young con-men did not escape unscarred from their experiences in their home city. Locke especially is a mess, and it takes a while before he can take an interest in the unscrupulous activities he used to revel in. But once Locke and Jean get back into the game, they are quickly pulled into a bigger, darker game by a puppet-master whose reach and skills may exceed theirs. I enjoyed watching these two brash, clever characters foiled at every turn, and forced into adventures on the high seas. Be warned that the story ends on quite a cliffhanger, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third volume in October. As before, Scott Lynch does some very interesting world-building...not your usual Tolkien-derived medievalesque fantasy, but reminiscent of Dickens' London hybridized with Machievelli's Renaissance Italy, set on an planet littered with the ruins of alien cities made of a strange, indestructible glass-like substance.All in all, a highly entertaining tale enlivened by an outstanding performance by a skilled narrator.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3592)
    Performance
    (2854)
    Story
    (2854)

    An orphan's life is harsh---and often short---in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains---a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans---a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards.

    Luke A. Reynolds says: "Stupendous, but be warned."
    "A delightful romp"
    Overall
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    Story
    Any additional comments?

    What a fun story! In a world littered with the mysterious buildings and artifacts of an alien civilization, master con-man Lock Lamora and his band of sworn brothers set out to swindle the nobility, Robin Hood-style, in a setting that mingles Renaissance Italy and Dickensian London.

    An orphan sold to a notorious thief-master, and trained as a pickpocket and petty thief, Locke is a born troublemaker, a restless genius with a knack for biting off more than he can chew, and leaving chaos and unintended destruction in his wake. Along with Jean Tannen, warrior and intellectual, a young thief nicknamed 'Bug,' and a set of larcenous twin brothers, Carlo and Galdo, Locke is later adopted by a priest determined to train a select group of thieves to prey upon the city's upper classes, and ultimately to break the power of the city's Capo, the master of all the criminal gangs.

    Unfortunately for Locke and his gang, a new and mysterious criminal figure, nicknamed The Gray King, is also determined to take over the city's criminal underworld...and the Gray King has a frightening and powerful sorcerer at his bidding. What follows catapults Locke into a complex scheme of revenge and bloody conflict as he finds himself cast into the role of the city's unwilling savior.

    Loved the high-spirited plot and the sharp dialogue, enhanced by a wonderful performance from narrator Michael Page, who gives each character a distinctive voice and characterization. I've already downloaded the sequel, RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES, and am looking forward the publication of the third book in the series in October 2013.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hero

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Perry Moore
    • Narrated By Michael Urie
    Overall
    (875)
    Performance
    (627)
    Story
    (632)

    In the story comic book legend Stan Lee calls "spellbinding" and "totally original," Thom Creed has secrets. For one, like his father, he has super powers. Also, he's been asked to join the League—the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. Then there’s the secret Thom can barely face himself: he's gay. But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, Typhoid Larry, and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide....

    Robert says: "Give it a listen!"
    "A funny and charming coming-of-age story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I loved this story about Thom, a 17-year-old boy who has two big secrets. The first: he's the son of a disgraced superhero, growing up in a household where the topic of superheroes is absolutely verboten...and, so of course, he starts developing superpowers.

    And the second secret, that he's absolutely terrified of his factory-worker father (or anyone, actually) discovering, is that he's also gay.

    I love the main character--he's a really nice kid despite his insecurities, and he's got a very interesting and authentic-feeling relationship with his Dad, who's also basically a decent and loving man, despite his homophobia. The tensions in his home are nicely described--Thom's desire to be a hero and help people, and his terror of having his secrets discovered...and thereby disappointing the father he loves and worships.

    The reader for this book is really good, and I'm finding the story very engaging. (I'm at the halfway point, and I'm finding that I really want to keep listening after I finish my daily commute. That's usually the mark of a excellent book for me.)

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By John M. Barry
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (1295)
    Performance
    (642)
    Story
    (651)

    No disease the world has ever known even remotely resembles the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Presumed to have begun when sick farm animals infected soldiers in Kansas, spreading and mutating into a lethal strain as troops carried it to Europe, it exploded across the world with unequaled ferocity and speed. It killed more people in 20 weeks than AIDS has killed in 20 years; it killed more people in a year than the plagues of the Middle Ages killed in a century.

    Nancy says: "Gripping and Gory"
    "A frightening and thought-provoking account"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    By turns horrific, fascinating, maddening, and thought-provoking, this book chronicles the rise and spread of a global pandemic in 1917-18 that killed millions of people, wiping out entire communities in some places, but which is little-known today.

    THE GREAT INFLUENZA is not only a suspenseful account of the spread of a deadly disease to almost every nation on Earth, but also a searing indictment of how the American war effort under Woodrow Wilson's leadership helped spread the disease across the world.

    Determined to send American troops over to Europe to fight, the influenza spread across America from military bases and training camps by ignoring the pleas of military medical professionals to quarantine the ill. The situation was then worsened when authorities used the strict wartime censorship laws to prevent accurate reporting, which was intended to bolster morale but had the opposite effect as people in affected cities and towns learned to distrust newspaper reports that contradicted the devastation and horror they experienced as bodies piled up in the streets and in houses, and hospitals were hopelessly overwhelmed by the numbers of the sick and dying, and the high death rates among nurses and doctors.

    The book concludes with a somber look at modern efforts to chart each new wave of influenza, and what the inevitable pandemic might look like, in an era of hospital cutbacks and outsourcing of pharmaceutical manufacture.

    I can't say this was an "enjoyable" book, but it was definitely very interesting and educational!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stephen Dando-Collins
    • Narrated By Stuart Langton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (366)
    Performance
    (166)
    Story
    (174)

    Stephen Dando-Collins paints a vivid and definitive portrait of daily life in the Tenth Legion as he follows Caesar and his men along the blood-soaked fringes of the Empire. This unprecedented regimental history reveals countless previously unknown details about Roman military practices, Caesar's conduct as a commander and his relationships with officers and legionnaires, and the daily routine and discipline of the Legion.

    Ethan M. says: "You should really be interested in the topic first"
    "Fascinating and frequently gripping history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Far from being a dry account of dates and battles, CAESAR'S LEGION brings this ancient Roman military force to vivid life by chronicling the lives and adventures individual commanders, centurions, and ordinary soldiers.

    Filled with fascinating details about how soldiers were recruited and trained, and how they lived while on the march, the book focuses on three major periods in the legion's history: the conquest of Gaul and Britain under the leadership of Julius Caesar; the legion's role in the civil wars that ended the Roman Republic and ushered in the reign of the emperors; and the Jewish rebellion and siege of Jerusalem under Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus.

    All three of these campaigns, as narrated by Dando-Collins, are rife with intrigue, political maneuvering, betrayal, battles, and heroism. It made for a very interesting listening experience, and I'm looking forward to listening to another book in this series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Anthony Everitt
    • Narrated By John Curless
    Overall
    (834)
    Performance
    (414)
    Story
    (413)

    Caesar Augustus has been called history's greatest emperor. It was said he found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. With a senator for a father and Julius Caesar for a great-uncle, he ascended the ranks of Roman society with breathtaking speed. His courage in battle is still questioned yet his political savvy was second to none. He had a lifelong rival in Mark Antony and a 51-year companion in his wife, Livia. And his influence extended perhaps further than that of any ruler who has ever lived.

    John says: "Outstanding!"
    "A fascinating biography of Rome's first emperor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Beginning with a gripping account of Augustus's death in AD 14 (the author speculates that Livia may have participated in an assisted suicide so that timeline for the transfer of power to Tiberius would go exactly as planned), this fascinating account of the life of the first Roman emperor covers both the personal and political life of Augustus, who was shrewd and ruthless, cruel yet loyal to his friends, a master manipulator of public opinion, and a consummate propagandist who maintained the facade of being merely the "first citizen" in a republic, while holding sole power for forty years.

    In addition to vividly sketching Augustus's famous contemporaries--Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, among others--the author also presents a lively picture of life in ancient Rome, from weddings to funerals, from food to sexual mores.

    A very enjoyable and informative book. I'm definitely going to be downloading the Everitt's biography of Emperor Hadrian next!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shantaram

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Gregory David Roberts
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    Overall
    (3304)
    Performance
    (1639)
    Story
    (1639)

    This mesmerizing first novel tells the epic journey of Lin, an escaped convict who flees maximum security prison in Australia to disappear into the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The keys to unlock the mysteries that bind Lin are held by two people: his mentor Khader Khan, mafia godfather and criminal-philosopher; and the beautiful, elusive Karla, whose passions are driven by dangerous secrets.

    Jamie says: "Do Not Miss This"
    "A compelling, wonderfully-performed story"
    Overall
    Performance
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    I've just spent the past six weeks immersed in this book while driving to and from work every day. After downloading SHANTARAM during one of Audible's special sales last years, on the basis of all the rave reviews, I put off listening to it for a while because I thought it might be a depressing read.

    Not so. By turns suspenseful, funny, interesting, and philosophical, Roberts brings Mumbai/Bombay of the early 1980's alive with vivid descriptions and memorable characterizations. International fugitive Lin's journey through the heart of his adopted city take him from the slums to five-star hotels, from brothels to mosques and temples, from a comfortable apartment near the beach to the Purgatory of the notorious Arthur Road Prison. Likewise, the section of the book dealing with Lin's adventures smuggling guns and antibiotics into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan makes for fascinating, if grim, reading.

    And the narrator! This is honestly one of the finest audiobook performances I've ever heard, as Humprey Bower moves effortlessly between Australian, North American, Indian, Iranian, Afghani, and German accents. (Kudo on his flawless German pronunciation, as well, for the brief passages in the book with German dialogue.) His voice and his skill in telling Lin's story made for an utterly compelling listening experience.

    I understand that the sequel is forthcoming, and you bet I'll be listening to that, as well!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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