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sam

shreveport, louisiana, United States | Member Since 2008

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 28 reviews
  • 32 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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  • Roots: The Saga of an American Family

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Alex Haley
    • Narrated By Avery Brooks
    Overall
    (1928)
    Performance
    (1057)
    Story
    (1072)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: A masterpiece like none other, Brooks’ powerful performance of Haley’s words has been known to leave listeners in tears. It begins with a birth in an African village in 1750, and ends two centuries later at a funeral in Arkansas. And in that time span, an unforgettable cast of men, women, and children come to life, many of them based on the people from Alex Haley's own family tree.

    Kevin says: "Powerful"
    "Behold, A True Classic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'd been meaning to listen to this for quite some time and was glad to have caught this as a daily deal. Most of you are probably familiar with Roots through the mini series; never seen it but I've heard good things. I knows there have been questions as to how accurately this depicts Alex Haley's personal family history, but that hardly takes away from the historical accuracy of the times it depicts as well as it's power as a novel.

    I've calculated that at least a quarter and a half of the book is devoted to Kunta Kinte; with much of that covering his life in The Gambia before his capture. I personally likes this insight into a traditional West African culture; though I always knew what was to come I became so engrossed that when Kunta was captured it came as a complete shock. Kunta's life after his capture, much like those of his descendants, is very much about doing what you can to stay true to who you are and make the best of grim circumstances. This is one of the longest books I've listened to so far, but I didn't mind in the slightest.

    When it was time for the book to end everyone from Kizzy, Chicken George, and all the descendants leading to Alex Haley himself, had come to feel like old friends and it was almost sad to say goodbye. This is a novel of tragedy and triumph, or loss and victory, and so on because that the way life and history are in all their twists, turns, ups and downs.

    This is a book written to give a voice to those whom history had so often ignored, but even more than that it shows how people are very much a like no matter what color they come in, and how black history is very much American history. You might see family faces in the characters.

    This is without doubt a modern day classic; don't be scared by the length, if I can do it so can you. Download today, you'll be glad you did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Mohsin Hamid
    • Narrated By Satya Bhabha
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (239)
    Performance
    (132)
    Story
    (139)

    At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with a suspicious, and possibly armed, American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting. Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by Underwood Samson, an elite investment firm. He thrives on the energy of New York. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned.

    Vahe Kassardjian says: "Disappointed"
    "Gatsby For the Modern Age"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I downloaded this on a whim having considered it potentially interesting and having found it at a reasonable price as a daily deal. I am more than happy that I gave this novel a chance.

    I can best describe this novel as most similar to the Great Gatsby, but I assure you this novel can more than stand on its own. There's a recurring theme of a longing after a past that might not have ever existed; like a boat against the current chasing the green light at the end of the dock. We see this through the numerous characters the protagonist, Changes, meets as well as with America as a whole. This connection is furthered as Changes grows increasingly disillusioned with America following the events of 9/11; on that note it was refreshing to see a different sort of perceptive on that and the War on Terror.

    Another aspect I loved, a long with the narrators excellent job bringing the story to life, was the style of the narrative. Changes telling his story to an unspeaking (to the reader) companion at a cafe in Lahor; an interesting twist on convention story telling and delightfully lemony. For those wondering about the title, as you will see in the book, fundamentalism comes in more flavors than just religious; nor is it unique to the Muslim world. Keep an open mind and you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.

    I understand this book was nominated for the Booker Award; how it lost is a mystery that shall be debated for years to come. I'm also pleased that several universities are using this book in their courses. So buy this book today, you'll be glad you did!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Saladin Ahmed
    • Narrated By Phil Gigante
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (173)
    Performance
    (154)
    Story
    (157)

    The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings: Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, and Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band.

    Samuel Montgomery-Blinn says: "A welcome new voice in fantasy, read with aplomb"
    "If you're sick of European fantasy, start here!"
    Overall
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    It's no secret that the fantasy genre has a bit of an unhealthy fascination with Medieval Europe when it comes to world building (largely due to the unfortunate influence of Tolkien and Lewis). Thankfully, Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon bucks that trend in favor of a sword swinging story worthy of the 1001 Arabian Nights!

    Obviously, the titular Crescent Moon Kingdoms is heavenly modeled off of the Middle East during the Golden Age of Islam, but there are also segments modeled off of Africa and India, with the ancient Kemeti Empire clearly a stand in for Egypt and other ancient near eastern empires. At the same time, however, the kingdoms are direct carbon copies of existing nations and cultures, and half the fun was guessing which elements the author incorporated into them.

    Now, the characters. Dr. Abdula, the last great ghual hunter. He's over 60 years old but still witty, sarcastic and generally laid back about life. By contrast, his assistant Raseed is a pious, holier than thou Dervish (think kind of like a paladin) who treats life ever so seriously. Along the way we meet Zamia, who is basically a werelion (Angel Touched, is the in universe term), the dashing thief Falcon Prince, Miri the brothel owner (and Abdula's love interest), and so much more. All of them excellently written and fleshed out.

    Like, I said before, the writing is amazing and Paul Gigante more than does it justice. I also appreciated that it managed to pack more plot and make its world feel more fleshed out in less than 300 pages, or rather, in around 10 hours. Let that be a lesson all you aspiring fantasy writers; it's skill of writing, not length, that make for good plot and world building.

    Ahmed said he intended the series to be both an homage to and a response to the fantasy he grew up with in the 80s and it couldn't come at a better time. When so many writer reuse the same tried cliche's over and over again this book dares to be different. A breath of fresh air in a world gone stale.

    Bottom Line: if your looking for fresh and innovative in your fantasy, look no further than this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shadow and Bone

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Leigh Bardugo
    • Narrated By Lauren Fortgang
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (519)
    Performance
    (478)
    Story
    (477)

    Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

    Norma says: "Great Listen!!"
    "Like Twilight in 18th Century Russia"
    Overall
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    Story

    I like to think of myself as open-minded; even when I do particularly care for a book I give it the benefit of the doubt and reason that it's just my cup of tea. Rarely do I outright hate a book.

    With that in mind, I hated, hated, hated, hated, absolutely hated Shadow and Bone! I hated everything about it! And for the life of me I cannot figure why the author is trumpeted as the next big thing, or how this book in innovative by any stretch of the imagination!

    Let's start with the characters. First Alana Starkov (technically ought to have been Starkova, but I doubt the author so much as touched a Russian to English dictionary). Good Ford, what a whiny, self-centered little...I probably shouldn't curse. I'm sorry, but she can't think one sentence, on measly little sentence without whining about her imperfections, or gushing about her beloved Mal, or generally not giving a damn about anyone but her own selfish needs. Actually, no, she was perfectly willing to toss away her talents to be with her beloved Mal. Bottom Line: Alana Starkov = Mary Sue

    Now, Mal and the Darkling. Mal is completely one demential with not personality beyond being Alana's perfect love interest. The Darkling, on the other hand, is a not to subtle Edward Cullen knockoff; all dark, brooding and boarder line abusive to Alana (and yet she loves him so).

    The rest of the characters were waaaaay more interesting than the core three; why the hell wasn't this story about them?! So, as for world building, we have Ravka, a serial numbers filed off version of 18th century Russia; boarder end by totally isn't Scandanavia, and couldn't possibly be China (who eats their wizards and make instruments of their bones). Again, the lack of research is apparent in such instances as a character getting drunk...on children's beer, and the butchering of the Russian language.

    The authors has explain all sorts of fascinating world building facts in interviews, yet seems to have forgotten to include them within the context of the novel itself. Bottom Line: World Building = thin as rice paper.

    What really irks me isn't the cultural appropriation, the horrible messages and morals, or the cardboard characters. No, what really gets me is that the author seems to posses genuine talent and ability, but squanders it with romantic plot tumors, YA cliches, and pandering to love-sick fourteen year olds; all the the detriment of the novel.

    If that were the end of it; I would still dislike, but not hate this novel. What pushes me over is how anyone could call this bold, innovative, well written, or possibly award worthy!

    Bottom Line: don't waste your time. If you want so good fantasy in a none standard setting checkout Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon, instead. You'll be glad you did.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Things Fall Apart

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Chinua Achebe
    • Narrated By Peter Francis James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (266)
    Performance
    (187)
    Story
    (187)

    Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger.

    Darwin8u says: "Achebe's Magnum Opus"
    "Great Insight Into African History"
    Overall
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    Story

    I bought this book to listen to for a World History class dealing with the 19th and 20th centuries. All too often World History tends to focus on the West at the expense of non-western cultures; Africa being most notable amount those. With this in mind I was more than happy for this breath of fresh air.

    This book provides a great view of life in Nigeria both before and during the British colonization. Mr. Achebe shows Nigeria as it was, with both the good and bad aspects. You get a sense of what it was like not only for those whose lives we're impacted negatively by colonization, but also those given opportunity by the British (as you'll see in the book, while not exactly positive by any stretch of the imagination, the process of colonization wasn't quite so black and white).

    The narrator did an excellent job; it was like I was sitting around a fire in Nigeria hearing stories told by one of the village elders of days long ago.

    If you're looking to learn more about an all too often ignored part if World History, or more about African History in general, this is a great place to start. Also a great place for those interested in non-western authors, especially African Writers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hobbit

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8302)
    Performance
    (7468)
    Story
    (7585)

    Like every other hobbit, Bilbo Baggins likes nothing better than a quiet evening in his snug hole in the ground, dining on a sumptuous dinner in front of a fire. But when a wandering wizard captivates him with tales of the unknown, Bilbo becomes restless. Soon he joins the wizard’s band of homeless dwarves in search of giant spiders, savage wolves, and other dangers. Bilbo quickly tires of the quest for adventure and longs for the security of his familiar home. But before he can return to his life of comfort, he must face the greatest threat of all.

    Darwin8u says: "Victory after all, I suppose!"
    "How Did This Become So Influential?!"
    Overall
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    Story

    I'll start off by saying that this is by no means a necessarily bad novel, but nor the great novel so many claim it to be.

    I went I to this expecting an epic quest for treasure, but quite frankly it was more like reading about a group of Boy Scouts on a camping trip! No seriously, Gandalf would be the scout master, and Bilbo would be the whinny scout who needs to grow a pair. Tolkien's writing tended to meander and good off on tangents, and many a time I wondered when the hell we were getting to the point.

    Frankly, I think that "it was a fine and blustery day in the hundred acre Shire" might have been a more appropriate begging. I was half expecting Pooh and Tigger to jump out at any given point. I'm beginning to understand what Michael Moorecock has against Tolkien.

    Tolkien clearly didn't think to highly of his readers, I could practically feel the talking down to; in fact many a sentence felt much like this: "Bilbo was in danger. Can you say danger? Very good!" And what of the narrator? Why, he was absolutely perfect for this novel, which actually counts against it as that only served to highly Tolkien's lackluster writing.

    Well, clearly Mr. Tolkien was wise not to quit his day job, but what of the story itself. On the whole I'd say it was nothing special, but nothing average either. I know this is the grandfather of many modern fantasy novels, but even taking that into account I still can't see how this is possibly so highly regard and widely praised. It even boggled the mind to think so e of the knock off are worse than this, but to be fair, like I said, this is just an average/ mediocre novel.

    I'm inclined to be done of Tolkien, but to be fair I might give The Fellowship of the Ring a try just to see if Tolkien improved. However, judging from the bits I've seen, it's nothing but a pile of Epic Pooh.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • King Solomon's Mines

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By H. Rider Haggard
    • Narrated By Toby Stephens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (52)

    On board a ship bound for Natal, adventurer Allan Quatermain meets Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good. His new friends have set out to find Sir Henry's younger brother, who vanished while seeking King Solomon's legendary diamond mines in the African interior. By strange chance, Quatermain has a map to the mines, drawn in blood, and agrees to join the others on their perilous journey.

    James C says: "Allen Quatermain=Sean Connery"
    "A Rip-Roaring Victorian Adventure!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I first learn of Allen Quartermain and his adventures in Africa via the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, not the movie). This was every bit the adventure I'd been promised!

    You really get a sense of just how exciting it was back in the Victorian era with all of the lost civilizations being discovered and adventures braving the thickest of jungles. The was never a dull moment and all with something new to discover, with that posh Victorian flare I've come to adore.

    Obviously, Quartermain is the quintessential Great White Hunter, so their was a bit of big game hunting along the way; thankfully it was mostly brief and did serve to flavor the story. As for the African characters, they were present surprisingly tastefully written given time when the novel was written. Quartermain even comment that some Africans are more respectable than Europeans he has known, and never once uses derogator terms to describe them. The rest of Quartermain's party were also great characters as well. And it had a happy ending and it all worked (mostly) well for everyone.

    All in all one of the best Victorian novels I've read in a while. Discover this gem for yourself!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Looking for Alaska

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John Green
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1031)
    Performance
    (861)
    Story
    (866)

    Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words - and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

    Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another.

    Darwin8u says: "Emotional Cotton-Candy"
    "Reminded Me of Myself and My Friends"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although set at a boarding high school this reminded me of my first year of college so very much. From sneaking out late to drink to having to come to terms with personal tragedy. I suppose that just shows what a talent Mr. Green has for understanding youths and their experiences. Here is a novel that is at once entertaining, funny, sad, moving, and just about everything short of the kitchen sink (and maybe even that too).

    Jeff Woodman did a topnotch job with the narration, and had just the right kind of voice for the book. I loved all of the characters; Miles the everyman, Alaska the Geniki Girl (what? I'm an anime fan!), the Colonial the...well, the Colonial. Even the Eagle reminded me of my own prefect of discipline from my own high school. And of course, gotta love the Romanian girl and Japanese fox hat guy.

    The novel treated it's audience as intelligent and Mr. Green included plenty of smart references for those who can identify them. If I had to find one issue it would have to be that towards the end of the novel Green's, um, spiritual (though not religious) views did get tossed around like a flying anvil. However, this was his first novel and I'm willing to cut him some slack. And what a novel it is.

    All in all a great book that I can't do nearly enough justice with this review. Listen today, you'll be glad you did!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tom Corbett Space Cadet: A Radio Dramatization

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr)
    • By Jerry Robbins
    • Narrated By Andrew Tighe, Mark Thurner, Mark McGillivray, and others
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Juggling schoolwork, cadet training and saving the world, Tom is on the adventure of his life. In his new adventure, Tom, and fellow cadets Roger and Astro, have their first encounter with a dangerous new enemy with a surprising origin. "As roaring rockets blast off to distant planets and far flung stars, we take you to the age of the conquest of space with Tom Corbett...Space Cadet!"

    sam says: "If Only There Were More Of These!"
    "If Only There Were More Of These!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't really know much about Tom Corbett before listening to this, but I'm a fan now! It's a real throw back to the Golden Age of Science Fiction complete with roaring rocketships, laser pistols, colonies throughout the solar system, and square-jawed heroes defending the Solar System from threats in outer space. However, like all good adaptations, these tropes are given a 21st century makeover while still retaining the fun of times on by.

    All of the voice actors did an excellent jobs performing the story, and a round of applause for the sound engineers and their work on the special effect sounds. This was actually adapted from a series of comics by Bluewater, which is good not only because it lead me to this but...well, let's face it, what where the artist thinking on those comics?!

    Maybe it could have been longer, I would have liked that, but it was adapting only about three or so issues. At least a sequel, an original Colonial Radio Theater production I might add, has since been released, with hopefully more to come.

    All in all a great escape that feels like listening to a Silver Age comic come to life (in a good way). If you're into science fiction or comics, or looking to be introduce to the Colonial Radio Theater, start with this. You'll be glad you did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Man in the High Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (435)
    Performance
    (254)
    Story
    (258)

    It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. It's all because, some 20 years earlier, the United States lost a war - and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

    Julie W. Capell says: "Meta before meta was cool"
    "Sometimes A Good Story Trumps Plasueability"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Amongst alternate history fans there has always been debate about the role of plausibility in alternate history fiction. I've always been among those who consider a good story to be far more important than a plausible setting. This is books has become my favorite example to support that position.

    Although most people group this among those "Nazis win the war" books, it really focuses more on the Japanese end of things, specifically the Japanese occupied western former US. At this point I should point out that, yes, this probably would have been impossible in real life, but most info on WWII was still classified when this book was written (and Dick did have a thing for Japanese culture, not that I blame him). And of course there's rockets and nuclear power everywhere, but hey, it was the 60s.

    The novel follows a group of average people, all of whom lead very different lives, and their daily lives in this alternate world. That might not sound exciting, but it does give a great glimpse into the inner workings of this alternate world and I'm a sucker for explorations of new cultures. That isn't to say there's no plot, for there is; Japan and Germany are teetering closer to war everyday, and some of the characters are seeking the author of "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" a novel about an alternate world where Germany and Japan lose the war (but it's not quite our world, as you'll see). Then there's those characters who discover things of great cosmic significance, but if I tell you more I'll spoil some big twists.

    I previously reviewed Fatherland by Robert Jordan, and I must say I prefer this novel much more. I find Dick is a much better writer than Jordan, but then he was one of the founders of New Wave Science Fiction. I can certainly say I understand why Dick is so highly regarded now, and Tom Weiner's narration was spot on.

    All in all a great book. To those plausibility hounds reading this I implore you to give it a try. You might be surprised.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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