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Baron

Bellevue, WA, United States | Member Since 2002

288
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 79 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • The Wordy Shipmates

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Sarah Vowell
    • Narrated By Sarah Vowell, Eric Bogosian, T. Bone Burnett, Jill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (974)
    Performance
    (326)
    Story
    (327)

    Sarah Vowell's special brand of armchair history makes the bizarre and esoteric fascinatingly relevant and fun. She takes us from the modern-day reenactment of an Indian massacre to the Mohegan Sun casino, from old-timey Puritan poetry, where "righteousness" is rhymed with "wilderness," to a Mayflower-themed waterslide. Throughout, The Wordy Shipmates is rich in historical fact, humorous insight, and social commentary by one of America's most celebrated voices.

    Mari says: "Vowell Nailed It Again"
    "History as reported by "The Daily Show""
    Overall

    This is wonderful. I am biased. I love neurotic, intelligent, sarcastic women. Oh baby. It's a good thing I encountered this in audio format because my eyes kept rolling back in my head at the sheer wonderfullness of it.

    She isn't intimidated by history, and she brings history alive in a quirky and relevant way. She enhances the narrative with just the right amount of historical context, and then shows how politicians today are influenced by these characters even today.

    I think if you like "The Daily Show" you will like this. Oh, and if you like "This American Life." You don't have to like both, just one will do.

    On the quibble front, the interspersing of quotes didn't work as well as it could have. It left Ms. Vowell sounding like she was at the end of her sentence when it was the middle. I suggest she read the full sentence and the audio engineer insert the actors' voices, so it sounds like she is a really good mimic rather than she stopped and someone else started.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Christopher Cazenove, Gabrielle de Cuir, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (539)
    Performance
    (244)
    Story
    (247)

    In a not-too-distant future that is not quite ours, there has been a major scientific breakthrough. It is a way to open windows into the past, permitting historical researchers to view, but not participate, in the events of the past.

    In one of the most powerful and thought-provoking novels of his remarkable career, Orson Scott Card interweaves a compelling portrait of Christopher Columbus with the story of a future scientist who believes she can alter human history from a tragedy of bloodshed and brutality to a world filled with hope and healing.

    Alan says: "A Novel of What It Means to Be Human"
    "Future Tense Historical Hand Wringing"
    Overall

    I enjoyed the book, when I finally finished it.

    There was a great deal of earnest ethical debating, much of which I found to be tedious. It's like there was 85% prologue debate and 15% story and action.

    As I said I did end up appreciating the book and its redemption.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Daemon

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Daniel Suarez
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6796)
    Performance
    (3842)
    Story
    (3869)

    Thousands of autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money, and monitoring power grids. For the most part, daemons are benign, but the same can't always be said for the people who design them.

    Erica says: "Possibly The Best Techno-thriller Ever"
    "What Dan Brown wishes he could have written"
    Overall

    This is a tight, multi-layered thriller with a neocyberpunk feel. If William Gibson and Tom Clancy had a love child, it would write this novel.

    The book spends some time describing the technology, such as network protocols, and whaddya know, it got it right, allowing for some poetic license.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Caveat: It does have some fairly graphic violence.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Anathem

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1782)
    Performance
    (792)
    Story
    (799)

    In celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.

    Richard says: "Tour de force"
    "Unparalleled"
    Overall

    I very much enjoyed this book.

    This novel plays with words and worlds. It is speculative fiction at its best in many ways.
    I found myself wanting to join the residents of the Concent of Saunt Edhar in dialogue. I never knew exactly which way the story would turn, which is refreshing.

    Don't let the history at the opening throw you, the rest of the book moves along well.

    I am deeply wary of a particular aspect of this book which I will call a science fiction plot device (sorry to be cryptic; I do not want to spoil it) but by the end I genuinely bought in to it, which surprised me.

    I enjoy surprise and learning new things. A novel novel is the cure for literary listlessness.

    This novel does also have a few of the weaknesses of speculative fiction, such as characterizations weaker than usual (and weaker from what I have seen from Mr. Stephenson previously), and an inconsistent narrative voice. These are quibbles however.

    I unhesitatingly recommend this work as an engaging venture.


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Susanna Clarke
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (3224)
    Performance
    (1218)
    Story
    (1222)

    English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

    David says: "Hang in there!"
    "A Magical Mystery Tour"
    Overall

    This is a modern faux-historical novel in the tradition of the 19th century.

    The writing is lush and well-developed. The characters inhabit their universe fully. So fully, that I get the sense that the author had very little say in how they went about their business.

    It brings magic, personal romance, and a sense of epic history together in a way which I haven't seen since The Lord of the Rings.

    Very, very good.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Altered Carbon

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3253)
    Performance
    (1469)
    Story
    (1477)

    In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

    Jake Williams says: "Altered Carbon"
    "A Good effort"
    Overall

    This is a modern space opera with the conflicted anti-hero, evil megalomaniacal overlords, and plenty of shoot-em-ups interspersed with philosophical musings.

    It's really pretty good!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Scanner Darkly

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Paul Giamatti
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (498)
    Performance
    (256)
    Story
    (254)

    Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D, which Arctor takes in massive doses, gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.

    Lew says: "Brillant Novel, Read to Perfection!"
    "Disturbingly Real"
    Overall

    I enjoyed this book very much.

    PK captures the ethos and ecology of the '70's drug culture very well.

    The conversations between the mind-altered denizens are the best part of the book.

    This book also asks questions of personal identity and values.

    This is all enclosed in a Dickian envelope of paranoia and deception.

    Paul Giamatti does an awesome job reading this book. He is a very good Actor! Who knew? It gave me a new-found appreciation of him.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Le Show, 1-Month Subscription

    • NONE (1 hr)
    • By Harry Shearer
    • Narrated By Harry Shearer
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Le Show is a program of satire, humor, and commentary about the week's news. Comedy sketches written and performed by multi-talented multimedia artist Harry Shearer, interwoven with an eclectic, ever-changing blend of music; from world to pop, soul to jazz. Shearer says about Le Show, "I do it because I don't do standup, and I don't do sitcoms, and the radio broadcast enables me to do what I think is funny in a broadcast medium without having to listen either to network executives or Canadian producers."

    David says: "Overpriced!"
    "Liberal Doses of Satire - From Your Local Paper"
    Overall

    I've always enjoyed Harry Shearer's performances: Derek Smalls in "This is Spinal Tap", about a third of the Simpson's characters (only a slight exaggeration), and many many others.

    I didn't realize he did a radio show and what a brilliant fellow he is. He has a very sharp mind. The content is very well done.

    He reads the news and makes comments on it. He is very good at bringing disparate things into focus. The show also has some interesting music and brilliant sketches. I think only some of the music is Harry, but

    This is like some of the old time radio broadcasts from the '40s. Very folksy and conversational.

    He is extemporizing and it shows. He does have long pauses, and stumbles. It is only a little distracting to me, and after I thought about it, I wouldn't have it any other way. It sounds like nothing else.

    He's been doing his show for 21 years. I won't miss it from now on!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Life of Pi

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Yann Martel
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10377)
    Performance
    (5635)
    Story
    (5668)

    Pi Patel has been raised in a zoo in India. When his father decides to move the family to Canada and sell the animals to American zoos, everyone boards a Japanese cargo ship. The ship sinks, and 16-year-old Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra with a broken leg, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon it's just Pi, the tiger, and the vast Pacific Ocean - for 227 days. Pi's fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they reach the coast of Mexico, where the tiger disappears into the jungle.

    Theresa says: "Best audio of the year for me"
    "In what ground does the human soul grow?"
    Overall

    This book was very good.

    This is an interesting story, told with wit and humor. This book also has many times when one is forced to learn deep lessons from one's soul.

    The narration and sound quality were excellent. The audio narrator has an Indian accent as the narator in the story would. It added to the story.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Da Vinci Code

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6846)
    Performance
    (1606)
    Story
    (1646)

    While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, a baffling cipher found near the body. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, sort through the bizarre riddle, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci, clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

    Alexandra says: "Incredibly entertaining"
    "Brilliant? Great Writing? I'm Confused...."
    Overall

    I was hoping for more from this book.

    I've read Tom Clancy, pulp westerns and sci-fi, so when I read a review that criticized the writing, I chuckled at the undoubtedly elitist English major. But, boy!

    (Oh, I should mention, I've never read Grisham, it seems this book may be in the same vein.)

    The action, the characters, the plot all seem really cardboard. The best thing about the book was the whole conspiracy theory, but when you check on the facts outside the book it becomes obvious that the patchwork of fiction and real-life doesn't hang together.

    I was disappointed in the book.

    The narration and audio quality were excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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