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Annissa

Married. Mother. Student. Full-time job. 33 years old. Doctor Who fanatic. Not necessarily in that order.

Member Since 2012

26
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 74 ratings
  • 142 titles in library
  • 31 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
6
FOLLOWERS
7

  • Dark Eden: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Chris Beckett
    • Narrated By Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (236)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (218)

    On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say - and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

    Amazon Customer says: "Hope to see a sequel soon"
    "Fascinating, but problematic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the story of the descendents of Tommy and Angela who were marooned on an alien planet in an unknown part of an unknown galaxy. The 500 descendents of Tommy and Angela have outgrown the little area of Eden they inhabit, but only one person is willing to face the challenge of spreading out across an unknown world.

    This was an interesting premise and the world building in this book is excellent. Everything from the source of the planet's warmth, to the lights on the living organisms, to the common birth defects in the Family Tree that never branches. It's these two points that made me give this a 3 star rating (if I were feeling less generous, that would be a 2 star rating). The rest of the book... not so great.

    Firstly, there is a language issue at the beginning of the book. The people in this story speak a different dialect of English that has evolved over the 160 or so years they've been on Eden. Certain "a" sounds are pronounced up in the sinuses which makes words like "lantern," "valley," and "family" sound like "lee-antern," "vee-alley," and "fee-amily." This was well-coordinated amongst the narrators so when you do finally get the hang of the lingo and accent, its not too difficult to follow the story. Still, it took at least 20 minutes for the words to begin to make sense as I was listening, and it still bothered me at least 3 hours into the recording.

    Secondly, the portrayal of women in this book is extremely problematic. The society on Eden is matriarchal, and yet the women just seem to be the administrators (when they're not busy procreating) while men do the actual leading. There are women leaders, but we don't really see them leading; we see them deposed. Additionally, the rules of their society state that men and women can only "slip" when the woman grants permission (and women in this book usually do the propositioning), but there are three rape scenes in this book. In the first, a woman makes a boy touch her and that is upsetting not just to the boy, but to his entire community and the woman who did it is ostracized. In the second, a girl is raped and just thinks to herself, "man, he must have been really upset!" and then there is no future mention of it. The third time, when the same girl is nearly raped, the incident is the catalyst for the big conflict in the book not because the girl is nearly raped, but because of what happens when that rape is interrupted.

    But let's go back to that procreation angle. The women do the vast majority of the propositioning in this book. But they don't do it because sex is fun, or because it's enjoyable, or because they like it. With the exception of the aforementioned rape scene, they do it because they want babies. They want the "baby juice." Grown women proposition 15 year old boys for the sake of procreation. This leads to some of the most awkward and unsexy sex scenes I've ever read. And that's before you're reminded for the umpteenth time that all of these people are very closely related.

    Thirdly, the characters are static. When I read a book, I expect the characters to learn and grow. That doesn't really happen. The protagonist remains handsome and arrogant. The antagonist remains ugly and belligerent. The main "love interest" (for lack of a better word) is the only character that changes, and her motivations for that change are never explained (see previous paragraph).

    Lastly, this book just stops. The dramatic structure is interrupted just before the climax. We have exposition, rising action, and then just when you think the climax is about to happen, the book ends.

    This is the first Chris Beckett book I've ever read, so I am unfamiliar with his personal beliefs. That said, I think that Dark Eden was meant not as a cohesive, stand-alone story, but as commentary on the Biblical Adam and Eve story. This would explain the static characters and the lack of any climax or resolution. It's an interesting thought exercise, but I feel this book would have been far more satisfying if it had used the creation story as inspiration rather than a source. This would have given him the opportunity to finish what he'd started, resolve the conflict, and let us know where the characters go from here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    Overall
    (297)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (98)

    Four of beloved author Neil Gaiman's delightfully scary, strange, and hilarious children's tales read by the author, now available unabridged.

    T says: "Great story and he is an excellent narrator, too"
    "Great for kids in the car..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...and when the kids come out of the car, it doesn't have to be all over.

    I was looking specifically for an audio version of "The Wolves in the Walls" but decided to go with this collection first because it was inexpensive and second because it had so much supplementary material. All of the stories are good and both my son and I love Neil Gaiman's reading voice. The surprise favorite part was the interview between Gaiman and his daughter at the very end.

    The only complaint I have is there is no space left between the end of a story and the title of the next, which leads to a very jarring segue from story to story since it sounds like the title is simply a continuation of the last sentence of the previous story. A two-second pause wouldn't have gone amiss here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Year of the Flood

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Margaret Atwood
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol, Mark Bramhall
    Overall
    (1118)
    Performance
    (658)
    Story
    (661)

    The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners - a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life - has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life.

    Melinda says: "thought-provoking, engaging dystopic fiction"
    "Not for everyone"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I depend on reviews when deciding upon which book to buy next. The reviewers I follow have mixed opinions on this title and after listening, I understand why. This book is definitely not for everyone. The subject matter is extremely dreary and this book is not so much a continuation of "Oryx and Crake" than it is a supplement to it. That said, I found this book intensely interesting. Enjoyable? Maybe not, but it held my attention and now that I'm finished with it, I'm glad I took the time to listen.

    As I said above, this builds more on "Oryx and Crake" than continues it. "The Year of the Flood" contains stories of two new(ish) characters, Toby and Ren, and through them, an entire cast of characters outside the corporation compounds. In this, you get a better sense of the world in which Jimmy lived, as well as the people that were around him. Luckily, these people are all just as interesting as Jimmy. Some, even more so.

    The production values of this book are top-notch. I've enjoyed Bernadette Dunne's work in other novels, and she's even better here. Mark Bramhall is one of my favorites and my only criticism is that he doesn't have a larger role. Katie MacNichol holds her own among these other two narrators that I love. There's also music in this recording. Typically, music in audiobooks makes me cringe and while I can't say that any of the songs are going on my mp3 player, these aren't as cringe-inducing as the narrator simply reading the lyrics or half-heartedly singing them. The songs are well-produced, corny though they may be.

    With an author like Margaret Atwood, you know you're going to get a solidly constructed, beautifully written story, but I hesitate to recommend this book to everyone. This book is bleak and there is no comic relief. If you like apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction, you may enjoy this, but don't expect to feel especially joyful when you're finished.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Life After Life: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Kate Atkinson
    • Narrated By Fenella Woolgar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1317)
    Performance
    (1169)
    Story
    (1178)

    On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

    Diane says: "Life after life after life after life after life.."
    "Finally a look into the might-have-beens."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We often take it for granted that we'll never know what might have been. If only we'd chosen a different path. If only that one thing had never happened. If only that one thing had actually happened... This book lets us see it, and it's interesting, and refreshing, and exciting. We know Ursula is experiencing life after life, but it appears that the people around her are as well. And that thought that everyone is blessed (doomed) to live again and again until they get it right is such a big idea that this book hasn't left me in the six weeks since I finished it.

    I really enjoyed this book. Granted, it took a while to get into because her lives in the beginning were so short. But after an hour or so, as her lives get longer and her choices and the choices of the people around her become more complicated, things get more interesting. What can she change? What can't she change? And are the people around her also experiencing this (for lack of a better word) déjà vu? (I think they are.)

    I found the book surprisingly easy to follow despite the number of times the book jumps around in the timeline, and I was so engrossed in it that paying attention was effortless. Fenella Woolgar narrated it excellently, especially considering all of the languages contained in the book.

    I would highly recommend this book, especially to those interested in what it was like to be a civilian in England or Germany during World War II.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Beth Revis
    • Narrated By Tara Carrozza
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (136)
    Performance
    (119)
    Story
    (119)

    Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh - to build a home - on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who - or what - else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet.

    Brian says: "Male reader in mid 40's"
    "A logical conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's nothing surprising about this book, especially if you're familiar with past colonial expeditions on earth, specifically the British colonization of the New World. This book is clearly the weakest of the three. It's not bad, but it's not particularly good either. Predictable and in places a little annoying, this book might have been improved with different narrators. I found both performances way too flat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Authority: Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jeff VanderMeer
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (63)

    For 30 years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X - a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the 12th expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (a.k.a. "Control") is the team's newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves - and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he's promised to serve.

    Samuel Montgomery-Blinn says: "Another surreal expedition into the uncanny"
    "Hopefully just a bridge to book 3"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely adored "Annihilation" and was really looking forward to "Authority." However, this book did not enthrall me in the same way "Annihilation" did. I'm viewing book 2 as a bridge to book 3, something that gives the necessary information to make book 3 make sense. It's possible that my high expectations caused "Authority" to feel like a let-down, but I genuinely did not find this book nearly as interesting as "Annihilation." However, I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend this series to my friends.

    As I mentioned before, there are important revelations in this book and it has some genuinely creepy moments. And despite my feelings of disappointment overall, I was still holding my breath in anticipation at the last moment of the book. This book isn't bad, not at all.

    A large portion of what I enjoyed about this book was Bronson Pinchot's narration. The man is a masterful reader. So good, in fact, that I may seek out his other audiobook work. I can't praise him enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Jodi Taylor
    • Narrated By Zara Ramm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (254)
    Performance
    (228)
    Story
    (227)

    Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History.

    Carolyn says: "Book Lovers Nirvana"
    "Does what it says on the tin"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a moderately enjoyable read. I must admit that it made my historian's heart beat a little bit faster to read about historians living and exploring historical events. However, the characters in the story never really came alive for me. Motivations and personalities never really seemed to gel and when I finished the book I still felt like I didn't know anyone in the book, not even the protagonist. I prefer character-driven stories, and this was very much action-oriented. Not bad, but not really my cup of tea, either. I also had difficulty understanding the time span of this book. What I thought had been a few months had actually been five years and I wonder if I wasn't paying attention or if the passage of time was really glossed over. That said, the story held my interest, even with little nitpicky criticisms I had about plot points, and I don't regret the purchase. However, it isn't likely I'll pick up Book 2 in this series.

    Zara Ramm did a good job narrating the book. While she did do accents, she didn't give characters distinctive voices. That, in addition to the aforementioned issues I had with characterization, plus the occasional nickname bandied about, made it difficult for me to tell some characters apart from one another.

    This is a fun read, but I would only recommend it to people who want to enjoy a little bit of bubble gum reading.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Bear Called Paddington

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Michael Bond
    • Narrated By Stephen Fry
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (166)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (95)

    Paddington Bear had traveled all the way from Darkest Peru when the Brown family first met him on Paddington Station. Since then their lives have never been quite the same... for ordinary things become quite extraordinary when a bear called Paddington is involved.

    R. S. Silverman says: "Delightful storytelling."
    "Still loveable after all these years!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I was in third grade, my teacher, Mr. Merrick, read Paddington to the class and I remember laughing out loud to his exploits. Now that I have a child of my own, I wanted him to have those same experiences. At first, my son wasn't particularly interested, but after about three chapters, I noticed he was becoming completely immersed in the story. He laughed out loud at the end of each chapter and when the book was finished, he begged for more. I downloaded the second book today and I'm looking forward to hearing him laugh at Paddington once more.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Tale for the Time Being

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ruth Ozeki
    • Narrated By Ruth Ozeki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (484)
    Performance
    (430)
    Story
    (429)

    In Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace - and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox - possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami.

    Karen says: "Engaging story beautifully read"
    "I am a time being. And so are you."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to A Tale for the Time Being again? Why?

    I'm not in the habit of listening to (or reading) books more than once. Something about doing that bugs me. But I can say that this book will stay with me for a long time and I will revisit certain scenes again and again in my mind.


    What did you like best about this story?

    What impressed me so much was how everything in the book had a purpose. Seemingly trivial details are symbolic of either a bigger idea or a parallel item in the other world. The first example of this is the double-meaning of the title. I downloaded it thinking it would be just a simple story. I was so very wrong and that was evident from one of Nao's first lines, "A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be." The scope of this book awes me.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I particularly enjoyed Nao's time with her great grandmother at the temple. I found her experiences at school disturbing and the growth and peace she acquired at the temple was deeply satisfying to me as a reader.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The reading of Nao's great-Uncle's diary made me stop and just sit and listen with awed horror at the recounting of the training and mission of the kamikazes. The detail and emotion put into this section of the book made it absolutely riveting. I stopped doing what I was doing and sat and stared at the corner of the room, my attention completely focused on the story.


    Any additional comments?

    What impressed me the most about this book was the variety of emotions this book made me feel. An author that can make characters feel this real and make readers sympathize with them so completely has my utmost respect. It's been a long time since I have felt so satisfied by a book.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Sunshine

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Robin McKinley
    • Narrated By Laural Merlington
    Overall
    (480)
    Performance
    (244)
    Story
    (245)

    There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. Sunshine knew that. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and she needed a place to be alone for a while. Unfortunately, she wasn't alone. She never heard them coming. Of course you don't, when they're vampires.

    Amazon Customer says: "An absolutely riveting, addictive tale"
    "What a difference a narrator makes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book came extremely highly recommended by a friend whose taste I trust implicitly. I should note, however, that she didn't recommend the audiobook.

    I immediately disliked the main character, Sunshine, but as I listened more, I realized it wasn't the character I disliked so much as the narrator's idea of who the main character is. "Sunshine" is written in first person limited point of view, and Laural Merlington chose to add inflections that made the character Sunshine sound much younger than she is supposed to be. Minor complaints were a little too emphatic, and serious revelations read far too flippantly. If I imagined the words with slightly different inflections, the meaning changed and Sunshine immediately became more reasonable, more relatable, and more likable. Additionally, Merlington has a distinctive voice that sounds very much like an older woman. This is completely acceptable for the character of Sunshine, but way off base for anyone else, most of all Constantine.

    The story is solid if you like vampire fiction. Before downloading this book, I highly recommend listening to the sample to see if this is a narrator you can bear to listen to for 15 hours. The narrator will make or break this for you.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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