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brendanstallard

ratings
27
REVIEWS
19
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
8
HELPFUL VOTES
99

  • WWW: Wonder

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy, Marc Vietor, Oliver Wyman, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (929)
    Performance
    (598)
    Story
    (598)

    Webmind - the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web - has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated. Caitlin Decter-the once-blind 16-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind - wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn't act, everything - Webmind included - may come crashing down.

    brendanstallard says: "Unmissable"
    "Unmissable"
    Overall

    I've been captivated by the www series since the first novel and Jessica Almasy blew my head off with her first rendition of "Calculass!" I'm a SF/AI freak, so the book was made for me anyway. What is wonderful is how Sawyer creates this band of flawed characters who then go on to fight the good fight with charm, courage and heart.

    All three of the books are heart-warming and exhilarating. I didn't find the concepts at all hard to believe, except maybe for the rather stereotyped Government bad guys. That's probably personal, I used to be a Government bad guy and I was, er--good:)

    While all of the readers(Mark Vietor, Oliver Wyman, Anthony Haden Salerno) play their part, and do so well, Jessica Almasy, as Caitlin Decter is perfect. When you hear actors talk about "creating a role," this is it. Writ large. She IS Caitlin Decter, you believe, and you dance and whirl as the teenager she is. Wildly excited as she works her way through crisis and wonder and the difficulties of the teen years. It is a simply stunning performance and I can't listen to it without a smile or a tear.

    There are no grim bodies stacking up for the hero/ine, (blessedly) no Vampires, just normal-ish folks dealing with a somewhat extraordinary dilemma. I loved the front cover, I can see that girl. Wonderful, and for me, best of year.

    I loved this series, and I've now read them through time after time. Kindle, Audible and Print. They are that good, but Almasy makes the Audible version UNMISSABLE.


    brendan

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Hidden

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Catherine McKenzie
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings, Angela Dawe, Amy McFadden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (60)

    While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: His wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff's estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company's behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff's life.

    E. says: "The Voice of Claire"
    "As others have said"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is a perfectly adequate read in the Kindle edition, reading the text. I'm afraid the audio is less acceptable. Claire, read by Amy McFadden-who is perfectly capable of excellent work elsewhere, seems bored with the text and I just don't know how Audible could have released a narration so awful. We often hear that this performance was produced and edited by some character or other, surely someone should have grasped the nettle at page 2 on this and said, "sorry, this simply will not do!".

    The writing, at the beginning is a little confusing, but once you get ahold of the characters, it's an okay story, but the audio edition, save your credits and sanity.





    brendan

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cell

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Robin Cook
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (343)
    Performance
    (304)
    Story
    (303)

    George Wilson, M.D., a radiology resident in Los Angeles, is about to enter a profession on the brink of an enormous paradigm shift, foreshadowing a vastly different role for doctors everywhere. The smartphone is poised to take on a new role in medicine, no longer as a mere medical app but rather as a fully customizable personal physician capable of diagnosing and treating even better than the real thing. It is called iDoc. George's initial collision with this incredible innovation is devastating.

    DebaDeb says: "There's an app for that!"
    "Dire, boring."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Maybe it is me-maybe it is Cook. I don't know. I really used to enjoy his work. The last two, not so much. This looked like a real slam-dunk, materiel I am interested in and have some serious concerns about.

    I was so bored I fell asleep and lost the thread a whole lot. I had to keep going back. Maybe this type of novel just doesn't interest me any longer. I'm usually fully engaged and my last audiobook was the full set of Robert. A Caro's biography of LBJ. I raced through that, riveted to every single one of the 4,000 pages, over sixty hours in Audible.

    Cell is a snore-fest, and I can't really pick out why. The narrator was his usual excellent self, George Guidall is no dope. It's just the material was staler than week old white bread.

    As I said, maybe it's me. See what the other reviewers say before you spend yer credit.

    I didn't like it one bit.



    brendan

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Killer: Victor the Assassin Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Tom Wood
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (367)
    Performance
    (339)
    Story
    (342)

    Meet Victor. He's an assassin - a man with no past and no surname. He lives alone. He operates alone. He's given a job; he takes out the target; he gets paid. He's The Killer. Victor arrives in Paris to perform a standard kill and collect for an anonymous client. He completes it with trademark efficiency - only to find himself in the middle of an ambush and fighting for his life.

    David says: "Rootin' For The Bad Guy!"
    "Good start, not so good end"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Book Review
    The Killer by Tom Hinshelwood/Tom Wood

    THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A SPOILER

    I saw this on the front page of Audible one day, and for some unknown reason, I have a bit of a thing for assassin books. I don’t really know why, perhaps because of the left over sadness of years of investigating crime while a UK copper. Perhaps reading histories of the middle and far east whence the lore of hashashin and ninja began.

    It’s the motivation for killing which always escapes me. Yeah, I get that you can get mad enough for revenge or anger purposes to put out someone’s lights. In self-defence, no question, him or me. Killing for money or ideological purpose? Dunno, less clear cut. I’m also pretty certain that it’s a difficult profession, rife with very high risk and there are many fewer hit-folk around than popular fiction would have us believe, thanks be.

    The Killer, Tom Wood’s first novel comes highly recommended by its reviewers on Amazon and Audible. Well written and performed.

    There is quite a lot of Gun-porn, the naming and delineation of qualities of various armaments is mentioned, if not labored over. Fair enough, they are the tools of those who work around guns.

    The writing is good, and the plot and narrative works well for the first half of the book. Character development proceeds apace, although we are not told a single thing about the assassin’s background.

    At about 2/3rds of the way in, a, “Hemingway Death,” occurs, which totally throws off the narrative and the plot. Up to this point, the twin fulcrum of the narrative was the softening of the assassin and a growing bond between him and another. A very humanizing and sweet element.

    The writer, by this death is painted into a corner and any mystery that the book might have had is removed and the reader now knows that we are to be left with a cataclysmic hung-up ending, which will leave us breathless for the next episode in what will be a three part series.

    There’s no question. For an assassin like this, you’ve either got to kill him, or turn his actions into reasonable ones. Otherwise he is utterly without remorse or morals, and writing THAT character is too anti-sympathetic, it won’t carry a book. Who wants to read a tale of endless murders for money? No, people don’t. There has to be a spec of humanity there, and in this book, the writer killed it with the, “Hemingway Death.”

    While I found the book readable and good work up to that point, afterwards it became mundane and the series of men chopping and fighting in Africa were boring and formulaic, the conclusion over-wrought to ridiculousness. Faugh. The direction was wrong, and the second half of the book could have done with some serious editing. There were longeurs.
    Up to 2/3rds of the way through, the book is compelling, vital and interesting. Afterwards, merely serviceable, somewhat boring fare you can read anywhere. For a writer with this talent, a poor outcome.

    Writers, STOP killing your darlings for shock and plot movement! We readers invest in those characters, kill them at peril of losing our interest.

    Disappointing.




    brendan

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Contact

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Carl Sagan
    • Narrated By Laurel Lefkow
    Overall
    (290)
    Performance
    (264)
    Story
    (267)

    The future is here...in an adventure of cosmic dimension. In December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future - and our own.

    A. Ferguson says: "Great book, significant differences from the movie"
    "Wonderful Reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I note that some reviewers did not like the narrator, (for a lack of accents?) Astonishing. This was perfectly read. A gentle caress to the ear. Letting the story do the work, beautiful timbre, and every word delivered with clarity. A masterful definition of the art of narration. Laurel Lefkow, thank you, wonderful work.

    The novel, well, it does wander a bit. It addresses questions of science, some of the theories of which were at the point of writing, the shores of the unknown. Putting those questions of existence up against love and faith, an interesting and confusing basket.

    I really liked it, but I admit, 60% of that was because of the beauty of Lefkow's voice. She could read the telephone directory for me.




    brendan

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ashes: Ashes Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Ilsa J. Bick
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (759)
    Performance
    (686)
    Story
    (691)

    An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom, a young soldier, and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it's now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

    Aser Tolentino says: "Another Readable Story About the End of the World"
    "Violent, disgusting gore."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is supposed to be for young adults. All I can tell you is that after a lifetime of dealing with the muck, blood, pus and goo of society, I don't need my nightmares added to by a book supposedly for young teenagers. I understand that some folks are just fine with gore, and I don't mind it quite so much in the flesh. Perhaps the pictures are more vivid on audio.

    The first third of this book contains a LOT of egregious and disgusting gore. Be warned.

    I was first drawn to the book by the subject matter. Apocalypse via EMP is always interesting. The cause, reasoning and final outcome of the EMP is left without exposition. The gore and violence lingered on lovingly.

    I missed, don't ask me how, that there were Zombies in this, and sorry, but I am sick to the back teeth of Zombies and Vampires. Authors, GET OFF THE TREADMILL and write something else. Readers, buy something else, or the writers will continue!

    Whole lot of reviews mention Katherine Kellgren's excitable and perhaps shouty delivery. I prefer audiobooks where the reader is completely invisible. Kellgren is no dope and has done plenty of work with Audible. As an amateur reader, I know that she read the book and made a choice to pump up the volume and allow the voice to add drama to the text.

    Some listeners like that form of delivery. I'm not sure it works with YA, which is already drenched with pace. I'm not about to knock it, because I know how hard it can be to get this kind of thing just right for everyone. It didn't work for me, the voice was shrill at times and I could have done without that. Bottom line, the story wasn't good enough to support the reading.

    The book, too violent for me. Too much wandering about while it told its story. The opening was fresh and very interesting, by the end I was frustrated with all the jumping about, re-threading, and the cliff hanging waiting to be hung. Not so great story telling of a great idea.

    Will I read the following instalments? Dunno, unlikely.


    brendan

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Policeman

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Ben H. Winters
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (521)
    Performance
    (468)
    Story
    (471)

    What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway? Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact. The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job - but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging.

    Amazon Customer says: "There was trepidation ..."
    "Interesting premise, not so sharp resolution."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a really interesting premise. What would happen as society unbundles during an inevitable, visible and completely relentless apocalypse.

    There are a lot of pre and post-apocalypse stories running around. Few are credible, whereas this scenario is only too frighteningly real. We get hit by objects from space all the time, most are small and do little damage. We don't spend much money researching them or how to deal with 'em if they do home in.

    The murder mystery was yer standard fare. I didn't find that more than mildly diverting. The characters were fairly cookie cutter, good guy, bad guy, girl. What was interesting was the way the society itself wobbled. Cell phones not working, bucket listers, and how the brave, insane and merely resigned attempted to deal with the big rock arrival.

    Beautiful read by Peter Berkrot.


    brendan

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • And When She Was Good

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Laura Lippman
    • Narrated By Linda Emond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (476)
    Performance
    (409)
    Story
    (408)

    Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who seldom attracts attention. In her suburb, she's just a mom, the young widow with the forgettable job, who somehow never misses a soccer game. In the state capital, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record. But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams - if you can afford the hourly fee. For more than a decade, Heloise believed she was safe, managing to keep up this rigidly compartmentalized life. But her secret life is under siege. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, an apparent suicide.

    kate says: "Thank goodness for Heloise and excellent narration"
    "A curious tale, slow and ponderously boring."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a strange tale. It started out a bit of a feminist rant, which was going to get boring even if true. I don't come to Audible to be morally improved, but entertained. It failed almost utterly to entertain me, apart from the final encounter, which was diverting for a few moments.

    The rest is pretty sordid, as references to prostitution, "the life," tend to be. It is a nasty, brutal, usually short life. Men are pigs, yes they are.

    The book was factually incorrect in that it plays out that there is a lot of money to be made in prostitution. There is, but nowhere near the figures that Heloise seems able to extract from it. The working girls almost _never_ earn what they work.

    Weirdly enough, hearing Linda Emond's wonderful narration use the few cuss words within the text rather sounded like effluvium in a cathedral. Even Emond's talent could not bring the tale to life for me.

    While I agree with the conclusions that Lippman makes overall in the book, and her post book notes, the book wasn't worth the time it took to listen to it.

    I know some will be disappointed in that review, especially Lippman fans, but it was a 2, no more.



    brendan

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Delirium

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Lauren Oliver
    • Narrated By Sarah Drew
    Overall
    (1887)
    Performance
    (1600)
    Story
    (1600)

    "Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't."

    Joyce E McBride says: "Wonderful"
    "Wonderful narration, so romantic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Who would have thought that this 62 year old geezah could enjoy YA novels? Turns out, I do. I ripped right through The Hunger Games and bought this one on a whim and the numerous good reviews.

    The narrator just about took my breath away, what a wonderful talent. I don't know how old the reader is, but she sure sounds to my addled old head like a teenager ought.

    There are sections in the second half, where the two lovers are recognizing the pace and power of their passion and melted me right away. Never heard Browning or Cummings quite like that, beautiful.

    The pace tears along a bout de souffle.

    I purchased the second part of what I believe to be a trilogy immediately upon finishing the first.

    A cracking read, and a wonderful narrator.


    brendan

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Birth of Britain: A History of the English Speaking Peoples, Volume I

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Winston Churchill
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (491)
    Performance
    (212)
    Story
    (214)

    The English-speaking peoples comprise perhaps the greatest number of human beings sharing a common language in the world today. These people also share a common heritage. For his four-volume work, Sir Winston Churchill took as his subject these great elements in world history. Volume 1 commences in 55BC, when Julius Caesar famously "turned his gaze upon Britain" and concludes with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

    Terryl says: "Birth of Britain"
    "Excellent History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I passed exams in History at school, how I don't know. I found it boring to the max.

    A couple of years ago, I started to read the fabulously bitchy history of England by Baron Macaulay for Librivox audio. It was an absolute hoot, which made me realise that history can be interesting and fun.

    The more I read, the more I realise how good *this* work of Winston Churchills really is. David Hume's is probably the more complete, but this definitely puts meat on dry bones. The late Winston was an opinionated old scoot, and without doubt, definitely a snob. He unquestionably considered the aristocracy, of which he was a member, rather better than yer average citizen.

    Strangely enough, while that does come through, it doesn't annoy.

    I particularly enjoyed his take on the middle ages, where it had the definite ring of veracity.

    Every history of Britain suffers from lack of detail from Caesars time through about AD800 or so. The documents are patchy, and mostly compiled from monks drawing the history of their church, rather than the times. Churchill runs through this time lightly, offering his opinion as best as can be gained from the documents available, and better than most, Hume included.

    Very well read, very well written and consistently interesting. A surprise and a constant delight.




    brendan

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Sarah Lyall
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (75)
    Story
    (73)

    Sarah Lyall, a reporter for the New York Times, moved to London in the mid-1990s and soon became known for her amusing and incisive dispatches on her adopted country. As she came to terms with its eccentric inhabitants, she found that she had a ringside seat at a singular transitional era in British life.

    A User says: "An American in the U.K."
    "A cold hearted, curates egg"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm an Irisher, lived in England most of my life, now resident in Atlanta. This type of foreigner abroad will always have an interest for me. The grandaddy of them all is Bill Bryson's, "Notes from a Small Country." A witty, wide-eyed and underneath the sharp-eyed observation, a loving portrait of the UK.

    This is sharp, in places justifiable, but is too filled with bitterness to be very enjoyable. I am a cricketer, so the laughably asinine reflections on a day at Lords and cricket in general were funny, but for the wrong reasons. The observer attempts to compare cricket with baseball. Comparisons are odious, Ms Lyall, and in this case, witlessly so.

    There was a deal of accurate criticism, deserved. Food, service, bathroom facilities and the cost of everything in the UK is horrible. Underlying the portrait was a sense of irritation. That irritation won't work anywhere in the world, will it?

    I can imagine quite a few folks, having read this, would have told Ms Lyall to,"bog off back to America, ya miserable Yank!"

    While the narrator had a lovely voice, really lovely, there are some unforgivable mispronunciations. Quite a few errors on simple words which should really have been picked up by the producer. (They are supposed to listen, right?)

    Living in Atlanta, I find a regular hoot of differences, cultural and practical, which are a constant entertainment. Ms Lyall could take note and try and be a bit more leavened with kindness. Britain is a mad place, like everywhere else.

    An irritable American writing about it with savage misunderstanding ain't going to fix it anytime soon. A cold hearted curates egg of a book, not my favourite.



    brendan

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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