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I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.

Phoenix, AZ, United States | Member Since 2014

  • 78 reviews
  • 329 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2015

  • Reamde

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner

    Richard Forthrast created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game. But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe - and Richard is at ground zero.

    ShySusan says: "Not perfect, but worth a listen."
    "An Engaging Journey Makes It Worth The Destination"

    What a romp!

    Reamde begins by introducing us to a strong and varied cast of characters. Once the story weaves them together, it then tears them apart; with events scattering them across the globe. Some end up on their own, others in small groups. The rest of the story slowly works towards bringing all these people back together for the story's climax and resolution. Some will make it, others will not.

    The book rotates between these different individuals and groups as they deal with everything from hijacked plans, to adrift boats at sea, to navigating wild mountain passes, to working their way through different cities around the world. Each plot rotation is long enough to allow you to miss the other groups and wonder what's happening to them. The focus then rotates, and another piece of the puzzle is revealed as we move to another part of the world, and another group of our intrepid characters.

    Malcolm Hillgartner did a fantastic job with the narration, and I appreciated his style of reading. He didn't try to do female voices different than male, which I was glad of. He also did a solid job with the accents from the different nationalities.

    An added bonus of the book was the fascinating world of T’Rain that it introduces us to. T’Rain is the online role playing game that plays a pivotal role in the story's plot. T’Rain's virtual, mystical world provides a chimerical quality to the story that I greatly enjoyed.

    The downside of the novel was that the last 4 hours were in desperate need of an editor. It went on far too long, and would have been more effective if written in a cleaner, more concise style. I will also admit that it came to mind several times that you could build an entire new drinking game based on how many times the author uses the word "inferred" in his sentences.

    Overall, a very enjoyable way to spend some time, and I will certainly be checking out additional novels by Neal Stephenson.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Shadow of What Was Lost: The Licanius Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By James Islington
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer

    It has been 20 years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs, once thought of almost as gods, were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs' fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion's Four Tenets.

    alfred says: "James Islington Has A Great Epic Here"
    "Surprised by the Fanfare"

    I’m taken aback by how emphatically enthusiastic the reviews of this book have been. As so many of the other reviewers here mention, I was pulled in by the comparison to Robert Jordan. The story was generally entertaining, but I did have specific issues. (1) I felt the characters lacked depth and pathos. There was no one I felt emotionally invested in. (2) The story was surprisingly and consistently violent. Whole leagues of bodies, some with the heads of the adults re-attached to children. Stabbing up into people’s brains. Cutting people’s private parts out while they are alive and screaming. It was difficult to listen to, and weighed more and more heavily on me as the story progressed. (3) I understand that there is nothing new under the sun, and the overall story was quite different than other books. That being said, some of the points echoed a little too strongly back to Wheel of Time: shadowy bad creatures with dark cloaks that don’t move in the wind, a sword that is not a sword, core character(s) that are reincarnations of major historical legends. Laman (spelled here as Laiman) is not the king, but the king’s chief advisor. I found these repetitions distracting. (4) The actions of some of the characters were extremely implausible.

    During the majority of the story it was entertaining enough, and while I grew more disengaged as it progressed, it still kept me through to the end. I may even consider giving the second book a go, although right now I’m uncertain. If you’re a fantasy fan and having trouble finding something to read, and can handle a fair amount of violent images, you may enjoy this; it certainly seems that the vast majority of readers are.

    53 of 62 people found this review helpful
  • Suspicion

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Joseph Finder
    • Narrated By Steven Kearney
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When single father Danny Goodman suddenly finds himself unable to afford the private school his teenage daughter adores, he has no one to turn to for financial support. In what seems like a stroke of brilliant luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter’s new best friend, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Galvin is aware of Danny's situation and out of the blue offers a $50,000 loan to help Danny cover his daughter's tuition. Uncomfortable but desperate, Danny takes the money, promising to pay Galvin back.

    Amanda says: "How did this get published?"
    "How did this get published?"

    I've enjoyed many Joseph Finder books before, but this one was so bad I'm honestly surprised that it made it to press as is. I definitely think that if this had been submitted to publishers without Joseph Finder's name, it would never have been accepted.

    The plot is not very original and you know how it will end from the very start, but that's not what disappointed me. The problem was that the author repeated the same unnecessary information over, and over, and over again. How many times in the same story do you have to hear about the fact that the milk is Lactaid when it has no bearing whatsoever on the story? When it states that he received a message to meet at the ihop of x street at 7:30pm, is it really necessary to make the next sentence "The meet had been set. They would meet at the ihop, on x street, at 7:30pm". That's how bad it was, and it was constant. It almost felt like a prank book.

    I hate writing negative reviews, but I only do it in the hopes of saving someone a credit they will be sorry to loose.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Winter's Heart: Wheel of Time, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Robert Jordan
    • Narrated By Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Millions of Robert Jordan fans will rejoice at the release of the ninth book in the phenomenally best-selling series The Wheel of Time. The sequel to the number-one New York Times best seller The Path of Daggers, which swept the nation like a firestorm, Winter's Heart continues a remarkable tale that is mesmerizing an entire generation of readers.

    Benjamin says: "Good book, bad audio"
    "How is it still not fixed?"

    I love this book. I love this series. Mostly I like the 2 narrators; the format is great, but through the series they will often mispronounce names for many books and then change to the right name, and it can be confusing.

    Anyway, I give this book 5 stars for the story, but the editing was all messed up. Over and over again chunks of the story will just loop back to repeat again. It's really irritating. That being said, I'd still 100% recommend the book - I just really hope at some point they fix the editing. It's a popular enough series that I think it's worth doing.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Queen of Hearts

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British throne, knows how to play the part of an almost royal - but now she's off to Hollywood, where she must reprise her role as sleuth or risk starring in an all-too-convincing death scene...

    Calliope says: "Good but not her best"

    I've read all the other Royal Spyness mysteries, and have enjoyed every one of them. They are my cotton-candy books; meant just for fun fluff, but very good for that purpose. I've looked forward to this book ever since the last one came out, but I could not have been more disappointed. Katherine Kellgren, who I usually enjoy, went so far overboard with the dramatically effusive performance it was painful to listen to. The plot was so bad, and the character's actions so bizarre, that it was insulting to the reader. I'm sorry to say that while I tried to hang on, and listened to quite a bit of it hoping it would get better, I couldn't finish the book. It was just too terrible. I'm going to look into returning it now that I've written the review. If you get it, I really hope you enjoy it; but I could not.

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Anthony Marra
    • Narrated By Colette Whitaker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Anthony Marra transports us to a snow-covered village in Chechnya, where eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night, accusing him of aiding Chechen rebels. Across the road their lifelong neighbor and family friend Akhmed has also been watching, fearing the worst when the soldiers set fire to Havaa’s house. But when he finds her hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

    Ryan says: "A bleak, beautiful debut"
    "Recovery Rather Than Destruction"

    The title of this novel, "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" was borrowed from a Russian Medical Dictionary; it was the definition listed under the entry for the word "Life". The definition strikes me as inexplicably lyrical and poetic; making it a fitting title to this impressive work.

    Marra's book is all about life; not just the lives of the main characters we follow throughout the book, but also of a full constellation of lives that orbit them. The lives of an embittered nurse, once jilted by an oncologist. A six year old in Manchester, England, who desperately wanted to avoid another hand-me-down. A neighbor; an elderly woman who believes she gets daily visitations from "ghosts, angels, prophets and monsters". A swarthy, opportunist smuggler who does good deeds for the doctor who saved her brother's life - explaining that even though the brother in question was most definitely his least favorite of six brothers, had remembered to feed his pet turtle once as a child; so a favor was still owed for his life. From these characters and countless more, the constellation is formed.

    The last word of the title, phenomena, is defined as "a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen". And with that, the story takes form; as we learn how the full constellation of characters came to either be where they are, or end up where they will, based on the vital facts and situations of their lives.

    Other reviewers have discussed that the story was depressing, the torture brutal, the characters sad. They definitely have very valid points; but I somehow didn't find the book too depressing. I was struck by the flashes of normalcy despite the terrible circumstances, the unexpected humor, and the strong underlying current of innate goodness and dignity that ran through the main characters we followed.

    In an interview, the author Anthony Marra shared, "I knew early on that though the novel was set against a backdrop of war, it would be a book about recovery rather than destruction, about surgeons rather than soldiers." That is the feeling the story left me with.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Perfect: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Rachel Joyce
    • Narrated By Paul Rhys
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A spellbinding novel that will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving, Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, difficult realities of the adult world with far-reaching consequences.

    Emily - Audible says: "Oh Wow!"
    "Touching and Fragile - Once Untangled."

    Having loved Rachel Joyce's original novel "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", I dove into "Perfect" as soon as it was released. After a decent amount of time listening to the story, I had to admit to myself that I wasn't following the narrative at all - so I started over, right back at the beginning. After several more false starts, I decided to go online and find some reviews; was it just me that was confused? Luckily, there was a review on Amazon from a reader with an early release copy of the book, who mentioned that the chapters of the book alternate between the story of the two boys in 1972 (beginning with both the book's preface "The Addition of Time" and the first chapter "Something Terrible") and the story that takes place in our current year - a story of a man nearing 60,(beginning with Chapter Two, entitled "Jim"). From that point on, the chapters switch regularly, with each narrative getting every other chapter.

    With that piece of crucial information, I began the book once again; and from that point on, I was entranced. Much like the author's first book, the story is both beautiful and sad; focusing on the cause and effect that relationships, actions, and experiences in our past have on our future lives.

    I found this story very touching and honest. Sharing any more about the plot would be a disservice, so I'll leave it at that.

    If you enjoyed "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", I believe you'll enjoy this new tale; a very different story, but treated with the same respect and compassion by it's author.

    24 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Are You Experienced?

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By William Sutcliffe
    • Narrated By Tom Lawrence

    Are You Experienced is a devastatingly funny satire on the whole idea of student travel - particularly the India backpack trail. Dave travels to India with Liz because he thinks he might be able to get her into bed. Liz travels to India with Dave because she wants a companion for her voyage of spiritual discovery. She loves it. He dreams of frosty mornings, pints of lager and restaurants where vegetable curry is only a side-dish....

    Amanda says: "Honest and Funny"
    "Honest and Funny"

    I picked up this book as soon as it came to my attention because there was a time in my life when traveling was my favorite thing, and how I spent every spare penny I could squirrel away. India was always on the wish list, but never came to pass. On average, I tend to enjoy most travel memoirs or stories written by people who have really had the experience of traveling.

    The author, William Sutcliffe, did in fact spend about 3 months traveling in India during his gap year, just as the protagonist in this story does. I have no idea if any of the events experienced by the character were shared by the author, but the general spirit of an adventure to a culture really different to your own was certainly very authentic, and told with the humor and affection that I think most people that travel for pleasure look back on their trips with.

    Fair warning: there is some discussion/scenes of adult content. None of them are over the top, but it is an aspect of the story. While making the decision on if this selection is a good choice for you, include that in your decision making.

    Overall however, I really enjoyed hitching a ride through India with our flawed hero. The level of humor, honesty and accuracy were spot on, and the description of how you look back on the trip after you're back at home could not have rung more true.

    It's a quick read (or listen) that left me smiling and remembering my own adventures. The narrator, Tom Lawrence, could not have done a better job and certainly played a huge part in how much I enjoyed this experience.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Night Film: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Marisha Pessl
    • Narrated By Jake Weber

    On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

    Amanda says: "What's Real?"
    "What's Real?"

    Night Film was easily one of the best books I've read; not just for 2013, but ever. It has easily made it's way into my top 10 list of all time great books.

    While I read Night Film at the end of August, I find it still haunting me as I write this review. This, for me, is one of the true tests of a great book. I can't quite get it out of my head.

    Night Film is narrated by the gifted Jake Weber; currently best know for his role on "The Medium", but also credited with countless other movie and television performances. Mr. Weber plays the role of Scott McGrath flawlessly; and as the story is told in first person narrative, it takes on an especially personal tone as he tells the story. He allows the tale to shine through as it slowly, hauntingly, and sometimes terrifyingly weaves it's way through the mystery that is the apparent suicide of Ashley Cordova (the daughter of the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova) and the rebirth of McGrath's investigation into the director himself; an investigation that years prior ruined both his career and reputation.

    Nothing is as it seems - or is everything exactly the way it seems? Does the truth, perhaps, lie somewhere in the middle? Your view may shift, as mine did, back and forth as I repeatedly had to question every assumption and belief I had formed, over and over again, as new information - sometimes truth, sometimes a lie - is layered into the disturbing file of interviews, experiences, and information we gather with McGrath.

    The story makes you feel part of this haunting decent into uncertainty you spiral through. By the end, I was uncomfortable, disturbed, fascinated... and satisfied.

    The book comes with countless old photographs, magazine articles, and other clippings from the past that make both the investigation and our belief in the mythology of the background all the more real. If you choose to experience the book via the audio version, please note that when you download the book from your library on there is also a supplemental PDF Download link offered directly under the title of the book. This will be especially important for your enjoyment of the first small section of the story as it steps you through a New York Times article regarding Ashley's death, and a Time Magazine Photo Spread of historical photos of the Cordova family.

    I hope that if you choose to read this book in any form, you enjoy it even a fraction as much as I did. I can tell you that I gave 4 copies as gifts, and all 4 people loved the book as much as I did. Again, I encourage you to experience the story as only Jake Weber can tell it - but no matter what format you choose, prepare to have the experience stay with you for the foreseeable future.

    28 of 29 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil's Playground

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Stav Sherez
    • Narrated By Peter Noble

    In a forgotten corner of a rain-lashed park in Amsterdam, the body of a tramp is found. The police can find no name nor any obvious cause of death. Only the scarring on his body suggests he is the latest victim of a serial killer terrorizing the city. Detective Ronald van Hijn has just one lead: the phone number of a young Englishman. Jon Reed is summoned from London to identify the body and tell van Hijn what he can about the man he knew as Jake Colby. But Jon is determined to do much more for his mysterious friend.

    Amanda says: "Interesting, But Dark."
    "Interesting, But Dark."

    There were aspects to this novel I liked very much, and one I did not like as much. It was a very good thriller/mystery, and provided the reader with many different characters to follow, while always making it easy to keep track of them. The plot moved at a good pace, and always kept my interest.

    What I did not expect (as it's not part of the book's synopsis) is that the book is primarily focused on Nazis and the holocaust, with some pretty dark topics and scenes. Some of the things described (types of torture done to the Jews in the concentration camps) are very graphic and dark. Some of it was too much for me, and I wish it hadn't gotten as graphic as it did.

    Overall, a good mystery/thriller, as long as you can stomach the topics regarding the holocaust.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Atopia Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Matthew Mather
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels, Nick Podehl, Angela Dawe, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the near future, to escape the crush and clutter of a packed and polluted Earth, the world’s elite flock to Atopia, an enormous corporate-owned artificial island in the Pacific Ocean. It is there that Dr. Patricia Killiam rushes to perfect the ultimate in virtual reality: a program to save the ravaged Earth from mankind’s insatiable appetite for natural resources.

    Amanda says: "Remarkable."

    I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan. While I have (thanks to some recommendations from my brothers) read a few Sci-Fi stories in the past, it's never been an area I was that comfortable in or drawn to.

    When I received notification that my pre-order for Atopia was in my library and ready for download, I was a little stumped; when had I ordered this? Why would I have? I read the synopsis and could see why I may have been drawn to it; dystopian undercurrents, with multiple narrators and points of view... The current senile me thanked the previous, unremembered me for having pre-ordered the story, and I began the book immediately.

    As mentioned above, the story is told by multiple points of view with jumping and/or overlapping timelines. You may at times find yourself in the same conversation you've read before, but now from the other character's point of view. Each new section begins with a clear announcement of which character you are about to hear from. In the firsts half of the book, these sections are larger chunks and it takes a while to catch on to the intricate cobweb of shared history that connects all of these people (or perhaps I should instead say sentient beings) together. Then, as you become more comfortable with the format and players, these sections become shorter and faster as the narrative speeds up to it's final conclusion; or at the very least, the conclusion for now.

    One of my favorite authors, Michael J. Sullivan, was discussing recently that one of the accepted, identifying qualities of the Science Fiction genre is that it provides us with a forum in which to look at, consider, and discuss moral and ethical ramifications of different choices and ideologies as they are extended into the future. I'd never considered that before, but between his recent Sci-Fi book (Hollow World) and this novel Atopia, I really see what he's talking about. This book gave us a great deal to consider regarding what we call "progress" and "technology" today, asking how far these ideas can be taken before they become something that controls us, rather than something we control.

    I believe that for the great majority of people, this is a book that will greatly benefit a second reading; and I am greatly looking forward to mine. Now that I'm more comfortable with the players and the landscape, I believe I'll pick up on a lot of great stuff in the second read that I missed in the first one.

    I recommend this book, regardless of what "genres" you typically listen to.

    28 of 36 people found this review helpful

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