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Howard

Atlanta, GA, USA | Member Since 2007

23
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 102 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The January Dancer

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Michael Flynn
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    Starting with Captain Amos January, who quickly loses it, and then the others who fought, schemed, and killed to get it, we travel around the complex, decadent, brawling, mongrelized, interstellar human civilization that the artifact might save or destroy. Collectors want the Dancer, pirates take it, rulers crave it, and all will kill, if necessary, to get it. This is a thrilling yarn of love, revolution, music, and mystery, and it ends, as all great stories do, with shock and a beginning.

    Geoff says: "Excelent space opera"
    "More storytelling than story"
    Overall

    This books falls in line with the works of Jack McDevitt in that it really is as much mystery as science fiction. Much of the book (it is written as a tale within a tale) neither advances the plot nor adds to the depth of the essential characters but rather allows the author to turn an interesting phrase. While enjoyable, I prefer more plot-driven stories.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Citadel of the Autarch: The Book of the New Sun, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (192)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (120)

    The Citadel of the Autarch brings The Book of the New Sun to its harrowing conclusion, as Severian clashes in a final reckoning with the dread Autarch, fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will alter forever the realm known as Urth.

    Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

    Darwin8u says: "The End of the Tetralogy"
    "By far the worst of the series"
    Overall

    Virtually no plot movement until the final two hours of the book. You know that the author has nothing left to say when four characters engage in a contest to tell the best story (for what it is worth, none of the stories were good). Too much metaphysical nonsense; far too little closure.

    1 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By John Irving
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    Overall
    (692)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (73)

    Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

    Maxine Fuentes says: "Wonderful"
    "A Serious Book about Religion and the Viet Nam War"
    Overall

    This is a great book. I had read it years ago, and listening to it was pure joy. Irving is a wonderful storyteller, weaving threads to form a tapestry rich in pattern and detail. It is a book for the nonbeliever who wants to believe as well as for the believer who wants to believe thoughtfully.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Skyfall: A Novel of the Skolian Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Catherine Asaro
    • Narrated By Suzanne Weintraub, Catherine Asaro
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (152)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (59)

    Skyfall goes back to the very roots of Skolia, showing how a chance meeting on a backwater planet forges a vast interstellar empire. Eldrinson, a provincial ruler on a primitive planet, is plagued by inner demons. But when he meets Roca, a beautiful and mysterious woman from the stars, he whisks her away to his mountain retreat, inadvertently starting a great interstellar war, and birthing the next generation of rulers for the Skolian Empire.

    Karen says: "Historical Background for Skolian Empire"
    "Not Her Best Work"
    Overall

    I am a huge fan of Asaro and especially her Skolian Empire series. This book, chronologically the first of the series, fills in some detail but offers little new and, at least to me, little that is exciting. The narration was fine but the plot was slow. The coincidental timing used by the author to solve the major thematic crisis was predicable and, frankly, far too easy. Perhaps I would be more charitable had I not just listened to Tale of Two Cities.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Tale of Two Cities

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Martin Jarvis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (584)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (232)

    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"; "It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known"; so the novel begins and ends with some of Dicken's best-known words, and between the two is every Briton's view of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

    K. Hicks says: "A Rediscovery of an Old Friend"
    "Fabulous"
    Overall

    Probably the finest tragic romance written in the English language superbly rendered into the audio format. Six stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cilia-of-Gold

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 17 mins)
    • By Stephen Baxter
    • Narrated By Amy Bruce
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Two apparently unrelated anomalies have disrupted operations at a mining colony on Mercury. A troubleshooting mission sent to investigate encounters peculiar events and even stranger findings.

    Steve says: "Finally..."
    "A Very Moving Story Though Ultimately Quite Sad"
    Overall

    I had never listened to a short story before, so I did not know whether the format would work as an audio book. I was captured almost immediately, and found myself surprisingly sad when it ended: the author intended (I think) for it to be an up-beat ending, but I could not see it that way. Very moving, ultimately very sad. A great story that stays with you for years.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Genghis: Birth of an Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Conn Iggulden
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (886)
    Performance
    (515)
    Story
    (519)

    He was born Temujin, son of a khan, raised in a clan of hunters migrating across the steppe. Temujin's young life was shaped by a series of brutal acts: the betrayal of his father by a neighboring tribe, his family left to die on the harsh plain. But Temujin endured, and from then on, he was driven by a fury to survive in the face of death, to kill before being killed, and to conquer enemies from beyond the horizon.

    David says: "Move over Bernard Cornwell"
    "Finction Rather than History"
    Overall

    Perhaps I was insufficiently careful reading the description, but I thought I was buying a history book. Instead, it is a fictional narrative about the young Genghis Khan. Since virtually all of the detail in the story is unknowable, it is best described as historical fiction with more fiction than the usual history-based narrative. Very recent archeological discoveries give us much more information about the Great Khan than we used to have. For me, the truth is much more interesting than fantasy.

    0 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Count of Monte Cristo

    • UNABRIDGED (47 hrs)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (3646)
    Performance
    (1981)
    Story
    (2028)

    Dashing young Edmond Dantès has everything: a fine reputation, an appointment as captain of a ship, and the heart of a beautiful woman. But his perfect life is shattered when three jealous friends conspire to destroy him. Falsely accused of a political crime, Dantès is locked away for life in the infamous Chateau d'If prison. But it is there that Dantès learns of a vast hidden treasure.

    Prsilla says: "Really-REALLY Classic!"
    "Top Drawer"
    Overall

    Excellent wordsmith, excellent narration. The story, of course, needs no review. Ungodly long audible book but well worth the investment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Way Station

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Clifford D. Simak
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer
    Overall
    (989)
    Performance
    (599)
    Story
    (606)

    In this Hugo Award-winning classic, Enoch Wallace is an ageless hermit, striding across his untended farm as he had done for over a century, still carrying the gun with which he had served in the Civil War. But what his neighbors must never know is that, inside his unchanging house, he meets with a host of unimaginable friends from the farthest stars.

    Noe says: "A very special novel that will inspire you."
    "Sadly, it does not hold up well"
    Overall

    It is an older book (I read it decades ago), and it does not hold up as well as many others (such as, for example, The Forever War). Simak ultimately is an optimist, and perhaps such optimism seems particularly naive today. But the coincidences needed to resolve the central story are just too far-fetched.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Xenocide

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Gabrielle de Cuir, Amanda Karr, and others
    Overall
    (4519)
    Performance
    (2393)
    Story
    (2420)

    Xenocide is the third installment of the Ender series. On Lusitania, Ender found a world where humans and pequeninos and the Hive Queen could all live together; where three very different intelligent species could find common ground at last. Or so he thought. But Lusitania also harbors the descolada, a virus which kills all humans it infects, but which the pequeninos require in order to transform into adults.

    David says: "full of passion"
    "Weaker than Ender and Speaker"
    Overall

    One of the great strengths of Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead was the relative absence of fictional science in those stories. Card's strength is storytelling and morality, and Xenocide depends far too much on science that simply cannot be true and whose details make little sense. And, as others have said, the moralizing is too heavy-handed: in Xenocide, he tells rather than shows.

    The accents of the readers did not bother me at all, but I can understand how some listeners might have been offended.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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