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Joel

Columbia, MD, United States | Member Since 2009

306
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 92 reviews
  • 147 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014
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41

  • Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (415)
    Performance
    (369)
    Story
    (372)

    The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.

    Sparkly says: "My favorite science read this year."
    "Interesting (mostly) but audio cleanup needed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In general, an interesting look at the history of rabies in human history. A bit gross in places, but this does address a real medical issue and it does get a bit anatomical out of necessity. Although the narrative was interesting and well done, it is rather dry and academic in tone (not a bad thing). I did find that some of the semi-off-topic excursions got a bit long but in general the story was well done.

    The narration was OK. I'm always glad with medical/technical audiobooks when the narrator actually pronounces the jargon properly, and that was done here.

    However, there is some pretty cruddy editing. The audio goes snap, crackle and pop every so often...as if the audiobook was transcribed from a well-loved LP in need of cleaning. It would be really good if someone could spend the time to eliminate, or at least reduce, the pops and snaps.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Etiquette & Espionage: Finishing School, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Gail Carriger
    • Narrated By Moira Quirk
    Overall
    (1035)
    Performance
    (952)
    Story
    (959)

    Fourteen-year old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. More interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea - and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy - Mrs. Temminnick is desperate her daughter become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

    But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish all right - but it's a different kind of finishing.

    Lynne Phelps says: "Fans of the Parasol Protectorate, Rejoice!"
    "A slow but not terrible start"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. I found the characters charming, the setting interesting and the stories fun. But I was hesitant to start this prequel series.

    And I'm of somewhat mixed minds about this, book 1. I'm glad that this story, while set in the same milieu as the first series, isn't quite as focused on vampires and werewolves (they are there but not the focus), so get a different flavour...some of the characters (but only a few) are from the original series...Carriger's wry humor is present, albeit in smaller doses than before.

    But the story in this case was a bit weak. And, setting the story amongst teenagers in a school setting invites comparisons to Harry Potter...whether spoof, satire or just similar setting. I also get the feeling this one was aimed at a younger audience than the first series.

    I'll probably carry on with this series, but so far, I enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate more.

    I'm a little less thrilled with Moira Quirk's reading. In general, she does well (definitely better than the narrator of the first series with respect to French and Scottish accents), but she disagreed with the first narrator about how to pronounce some of the proper names, etc. I have nothing against her reading...just not thrilled with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Stanislaw Lem
    • Narrated By Scott Aiello
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (27)

    Trurl and Klaupacius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. Over the course of their adventures in The Cyberiad, they travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their unsuspecting employers.

    Joel says: "Robotic Fun"
    "Robotic Fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Stanislaw Lem wrote many serious novels and essays, with deep literary impact about communication, aliens and idealized societies.

    The Cyberiad isn't one of those.

    A collection of mostly humorous (if more than slightly geeky) tales about the famous "constructors" Trurl and Klapaucius living in a robotic/cybernetic world. Despite the technological society, the setting is somewhat Medieval...kings, knights, pirates, the occasional dragon, even a few (robotic) princesses. In this context, Trurl and Klapaucius are knights-errant, using their skills to solve problems, meet challenges and occasionally mess things up royally.

    It's a fun set of stories, keying on the friendship-cum-rivalry of the two constructors.

    Scott Aiello's narration was very good.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Ringworld's Children

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Larry Niven
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (447)
    Performance
    (204)
    Story
    (208)

    The Ringworld is a landmark engineering achievement, a flat band 3-million-times the surface area of Earth, encircling a distant star. Home to trillions of inhabitants, not all of which are human, and host to amazing technological wonders, the Ringworld is unique in all of the universe.

    Ausbin says: "Great Sci-Fi"
    "Fairly good windup, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Larry Niven's Ringworld saga/extended thought experiment comes to a conclusion.

    In the foreword, the author reveals that he never really intended for Ringworld to be more than a one-off story and interesting thought experiment. However, it captured the imagination, and so he returned for 3 more novels, adding the concept of Pak Protectors, another thought-experiment-turned-saga from his Known Space universe for novels 2 through 4.

    We're at the final chapter, and there is now a burgeoning "fringe" war among the species of Known Space (mostly Humans and Kzinti) while the protector Tunesmith, Louis and their companions try to keep the Ringworld safe from invaders. The story is a pretty good windup to the saga...although it is now getting somewhat long in the tooth, and it is good that this is the last one.

    However, I find the narrator pretty irritating. He makes Tunesmith sound like an overly cheery salesman (rather than a ghoul-turned-wizard) and Acolyte sound like a mentally subnormal child rather than an (adolescent) 7-foot tall feline predator. Especially a come-down after listening to the excellent narration of the previous book in the cycle, The Ringworld Throne.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Timeless: The Parasol Protectorate, the Fifth

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Gail Carriger
    • Narrated By Emily Gray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (995)
    Performance
    (907)
    Story
    (903)

    Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

    Leanna says: "So long but not goodbye?"
    "The denouement arrives"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate stories, and we finally get many of the loose ends tied up together and the story most emphatically ends. [The author's blog indicates she is working on a sequel series centering around the next generation, but Alexia's saga is clearly wrapped up.]

    Alexia and Conall now have a toddler on their hands, and what a handful. Legally, she is being raised by Lord Akeldama and his drones, but the birth parents are always on hand (as foretold in the 4th book). Then a comes a summons for little Prudence to attend an ancient vampire hive queen in Egypt...and Ivy Tonstil comes along as the cover story. There is a separate storyline with the werewolf pack back in England, mostly focused on Biffy and Prof. Lyall.

    There are a couple of unexpected twists, and it is clear that Gail Carriger is tying up many of the loose ends from the earlier books. The story itself is enjoyable and the ending is amusing and worth waiting for. My biggest regret is that there is not nearly enough Lord Akeldama in this story, but we can't always have everything.

    I'm still mixed on Emily Gray's reading. Some voices clearly pose a challenge to her, but that doesn't seem to interfere with this particular story. Her narration did not detract from this story, but I don't know that it added all that much, either.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By E. W. Hornung
    • Narrated By David Rintoul
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    By day, A J Raffles is a debonair man-about-town and one of England's finest cricketers. By night - he's London's most notorious thief! Here is classic crime to rival Sherlock Holmes - written by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's brother-in-law!

    Joel says: "Very dated, but amusing"
    "Very dated, but amusing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    About the time that Sherlock Holmes was wandering chasing criminals around London, and P.G. Wodehouse was in boarding school, E.W. Hornung created A.J. Raffles and his partner (known in this volume only by his schoolboy nickname of "Bunny").

    A.J. Raffles is a man about town...famous cricketer...master of disguise...occasional expert burglar and safe cracker. His companion, Bunny, falls in with him more or less by accident and has somewhat mixed feelings on living by stealing versus the excitement of the chase, and of course, the ongoing terror of being caught.

    The writing, and the humor, are very reminiscent of early Wodehouse and Raffles is fairly reminiscent of Psmith. However, while Wodehouse was writing to be funny, I think Hornung wrote these stories to be more adventurous with mildly ironic characters. I also get the sense that Hornung wrote Raffles as somewhat of a counterpoint to Sherlock Holmes.

    These stories are very dated to late Victorian England...the writing, the humor, the characters and the setting all scream "1890's." Definitely a period piece.

    Overall, it was fun and amusing, lighthearted and escapist without a whole lot of baggage or serious depth.

    The narrator did a great job with this!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heartless: The Parasol Protectorate, the Fourth

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Gail Carriger
    • Narrated By Emily Gray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1152)
    Performance
    (995)
    Story
    (996)

    Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant. Can Alexia determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria?

    Yuriko says: "The fun is BACK!"
    "The story unfolds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First off, you really need to read the first 3 books of the series before this one will make sense.

    It's pretty clear that we are building up to a bigger climax in the final book. The humour is growing a little stale after 3 books (although there is a new element to joke about---Alexia's almost-completed pregnancy). Meanwhile, Alexia solves some problems and creates new ones. The Grand Mystery is unfolding and some of the questions that we thought were solved in previous books are raised again. (You REALLY have to have read the previous books for this to make sense.)

    One big plus is that this book focuses a good deal of time on one of the more interesting secondary characters: Lord Akeldama (who was almost entirely absent from Book the Third). I like the fact that we don't have His Lordship's full biography, but we get some interesting hints about the vampire he is...and the man he once was. And, just generally, he is an amusing player to watch---clearly, the author had lots of fun writing his dialog and I had fun listening to it.

    I'm finding the series enjoyable in a light, beach-reading kind of way: amusing, reasonably well-written...and mostly harmless.

    The series finishes with a fifth book and, if you've gotten this far, you probably want to finish the series (I did, and yes, it really does end after five books).

    I'm still of mixed opinions about Emily Gray's reading. She gets many of the characterizations nailed down well (Lord Akeldama being excellently delivered), but I think she does a so-so (at best) job with the Scottish and French accents, when required. This book required less of that than the previous two, but it was still a distraction when Lord Maccon was being read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Mary Roach
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3464)
    Performance
    (1945)
    Story
    (1961)

    For two thousand years, cadavers have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.

    Matthew says: "Darn funny if you're open to the idea."
    "Fascinating but Gruesome"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What happens to you after you die? We're not talking about the soul or an afterlife---what happens to your body after you stop using it?

    Many people donate their cadavers for research, and that's where things get interesting. Mary Roach visited all sorts of groups who use cadavers for various research purposes, ranging from determining how bodies decay (for criminal forensic purposes) to medical school dissections to some more outlandish uses that you might not consider.

    The author provides a look in a science-for-the-public, clinical-yet-casual manner---it isn't overly technical and is written for the layperson. In addition to the actual treatment of the cadavers, you also learn a bit about the people who work with them and some of the incongruities surrounding cadaveric research.

    I found it fascinating but I can imagine it isn't everyone's cup of tea.

    The narrator did a great job!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blameless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Gail Carriger
    • Narrated By Emily Gray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1248)
    Performance
    (1027)
    Story
    (1032)

    Gail Carriger’s best-selling Parasol Protectorate series reimagines Victorian England with vampires, werewolves, and a dash of steampunk. Blameless is the third in the series starring the parasol-wielding Lady Alexia Maccon, formerly Alexia Tarabotti. After news spreads of her delicate condition—a surprise to everyone since she’s married to a werewolf—Alexia is desperate to escape the London gossip. So she heads to Italy for a change of scenery.

    Leanna says: "When you're right, you're right!"
    "Now we're getting somewhere"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First off: this is the third of 5 stories and they really won't make sense unless you attack them in order.

    Second: Carriger's story is finally taking shape...I guess she started to do that in Changeless, but Blameless is where it became obvious that there was a bigger mystery unfolding. Also, some of the more repetitive jokes from the first two books---such as Alexia's libido---got downplayed in this one.

    Third: It is also the first book in which characters other than Alexia and Connel take center stage...in particular, Professor Lyall.

    Lastly: The non-English accents presented in this book didn't tax Emily Gray's diction as much as the previous book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Anno Dracula: Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kim Newman
    • Narrated By William Gaminara
    Overall
    (100)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (92)

    With the versatile voice talent of William Gaminara, acclaimed novelist Kim Newman explores the darkest depths of a reinvented Victorian London. It is 1888, and Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort the Wallachian Prince infamously known as Count Dracula. Peppered with familiar characters from Victorian history and fiction, the novel tells the story of vampire Geneviève Dieudonné and British spy Charles Beauregard as they strive to solve the mystery of the Ripper murders.

    Leanna says: "Brillant!"
    "An interesting concept...started slow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An interesting idea...London is now a night city, with a large number of vampires wandering around a city ruled by Queen Victoria and her new Prince Consort...a certain undead Wallachian prince, who arrived in England a scant few years ago. The story is populated with familiar names from Victorian-era history and fiction....Sherlock Holmes is in a prison camp somewhere, but his brother Mycroft is still sitting in his club and his foil Inspector Lestrade is on the case, and so on.

    In this setting, someone starts killing vampiric ladies of the night (in the traditional sense of the term). Someone known as "Jack the Ripper." Against this, various groups seek to solve the case while dealing with political unrest and London deals with the brave new world of vampires and the "warm."

    I found the story starting out slowly, but picked up as it went along. But the ending was somewhat predictable...I found it worth listening to, but I won't bother listening to it again.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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