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  • Artemis Fowl: Artemis Fowl, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Eoin Colfer
    • Narrated By Nathaniel Parker

    Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genuis, and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories, they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

    JHawk 77 says: "Artemis Fowl (unabridged)"
    "Great narrator, well-written"

    This was a great story. Hard to believe it is really a kid's book. Seems thoroughly adult to me. Lots of sly sarcastic jokes. What really made this book great though was the great narrator. He brought all the characters to life and really added to the excitement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ellen Kushner
    • Narrated By Ellen Kushner, Dion Graham, Katherine Kellgren, and others

    On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless--until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

    Stacy says: "What a beautiful book..."

    I made a vow this year to try to write "positive" negative reviews, as in, I didn't like this, but you might like it if...but in some cases I feel I've gotten a bait and switch based on the description of a book and my temper flairs.

    I wouldn't be quite so hard on this book if it weren't for the fact that it won an audie award and was championed by Neil Gaiman. This book was described as Jane Austin-esque fantasy with a "supporting cast" and "soundscapes."

    Firstly, I get zero Jane Austin from this. It is primarily an action adventure book. Yes, there are scenes of people having dinner or tea and chatting, but also scenes of swordplay ending in death and fairly graphic sex scenes, which are not REALLY something you'd find in Pride and Prejudice.

    The supporting cast pops in from time to time and this is quite jarring. Imagine, you've been listening to the main narrator doing all the voices for half an hour, then randomly, another actor pops in for a few lines. Huh?

    The sound effects are completely random. Why they chose to highlight certain sounds is beyond me. sound effects for a whole scene, then a loud sound of a piece of paper being crumpled. Or, sudden clicking tea cups when that isn't even a plot point, they are just drinking tea.

    The occasional music was fine.

    Finally, if you are sensitive to adverbs, which I didn't think I was, you will lose your mind. "He said, archly, darkly, quickly, slyly, overtly, snidely..." I'm okay with adverbs but at some point they signal that the author fears the reader will not understand the state of mind of the person speaking. And, really, I didn't.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Earth Abides: The 60th Anniversary Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By George R. Stewart
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Connie Willis

    A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.

    J. Rhoderick says: "Brilliant, beautiful, sad, terrifying"
    "Needs to abridged to half the length"

    First, the positive. This books feels remarkably modern considering it was written in 1949. There are a few racists and sexist statements, but overall, this book could take place now. I read that it is one of the first of the "disaster" style books, so I guess historically it is interesting.

    I would not classify this as science fiction, which I thought it was. It takes place in "the present" and there is no fictional technology or anything (just the killer plague).

    The negative: I am 2 hours from the end of this audio book and I don't know if I can finish it. God it's dragged on for sooooo long. Let me warn you - the first five hours or so has NO dialogue. It is just the main character ruminating. He is a self-described loner, but I'd go further and say he borders on being a sociopath. He has almost no emotional response to anything in the book, other than feeling fear a few times. When other characters finally appear, he routinely refers to them as stupid dull people, constantly disparaging them even after they've been with each other for decades. I know main characters don't have to be likable, but we are stuck in Ish's head and he is an ass. What's worse is that we have to hear him debate things over and over in his mind, often repeating himself even in the same paragraph. Hmm, my son joey is smart. The rest of the group is stupid. I should teach them to read. But they are too stupid. But I could teach joey. He is smart. Smarter than the rest of these idiots. They will never learn to read. OKAY. I get it.

    The narrator does a good job of trying to bring this material to life, but he can't save it. (Don't bother with this book, it is not worth the time)

    0 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Hunger Games

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Suzanne Collins
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

    Teddy says: "The Book Deserves The Hype"
    "Gratuitous violence distracts from good writing"

    There are very few books that I wished I hadn't read, but this series falls into that category.

    I'll try to make this short, and what I wished someone had told me before I started book one. I was uneasy with the plot line of kids killing other kids for the entertainment of a debauched population, but I hoped that the violence would be PG since this was a teen book. Not the case. If you like constant graphic gratuitous violence, you'll love this! The mutilations and deaths start right away, and build and build throughout the series. By book three everyone is getting shot and burned and beaten and tortured and killed. Awesome!

    The main character is self-centered and emotionally stunted and does not develop at all in the course of the books. I'm embarrassed that I kept reading to find out what happened. Really not worth it.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mockingjay: The Final Book of The Hunger Games

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Suzanne Collins
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena live, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge....

    GS says: "Conflicting Emotions"
    "Gratuitously violent and grim"

    There are very few books that I wished I hadn't read, but this series falls into that category.

    When I started the book, I felt a little uneasy about the premise–kids killing other kids for the entertainment of a debauched population–but a friend recommended it so I gave it a try. I was hoping that since this was a "teen" book I could expect the violence to be a bit subdued but I was dead wrong about that. Blood, gore, torture, etc. are all described in great detail. Characters are put in situations that defy logic so that they can be killed or injured.

    The main character is emotionally stunted from the get go, and lacks empathy for any other character. She doesn't develop at all over the course of the series, and by book three I was sick of her constant self-centered whining. I mean, seriously, this is a country at war and it sounds like half the population is decimated. EVERYONE is having a bad time!

    The author doesn't bring the same attention to describing loving relationships that she does to describing violence, which is really frustrating. The one person the main character definitely loves, her sister, is almost invisible in this last book. There were plenty of opportunities for them to have sweet moments, like when they are together for days in a bunker, but that didn't happen. I feel I don't know Prim at all.

    Perhaps all this violence and lack of love is cathartic for teens? I dunno. I feel like the author created a bunch of characters then threw them in a box with razor blades and shook them hard. I was a sucker for wanting to find out what happens in the end...but I'd "undo" this read if I could.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Barbara Demick
    • Narrated By Karen White
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape never before seen, Demick brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today.

    Gohar says: "The man who wants to be GOD"
    "More fiction than fact"

    There is a lot of good information in here about how people live in North Korea, but the stories are all anecdotal–the information gathered from people now living in South Korea. The author seems to have spent little time in North Korea herself. In order to give the stories immediacy, she adds all kinds of florid prose and descriptions that I am sure are not the words the people telling her the stories used. For instance, I'd be hard pressed to talk about a high school romance and recall that warm wind ruffled my hair, leaves blew around my feet, yet she has her source, a middle-aged woman, recount this level of detail. As does everyone. No one is ever scared...they lay huddled beneath thin blankets quivering in terror. That is fine for fiction but in a non-fiction book it rings false. Ms. Demick should have done a fiction book where she could show off her writing skills instead of putting words in the mouths of "ordinary" people.

    3 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Ship Breaker

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Narrated By Joshua Swanson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota - and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.

    Rusty says: "Very good"
    "Very good"

    Really fun listen. I wouldn't call this a "teen" book by any means. The main character is teen-aged, but he basically lives an adult life. Well written, well read, good pace.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Thirteen

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Marsalis is one of a new breed...literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. government to embody the naked aggression and primal survival skills that centuries of civilization have erased from humankind, Thirteens were intended to be the ultimate military fighting force. The project was scuttled, however, when a fearful public branded the supersoldiers dangerous mutants, dooming the Thirteens to forced exile on Earth's distant, desolate Mars colony. But Marsalis found a way to slip back.

    L. says: "WOW, Morgan Does it again!"
    "Great Book"

    If you like Morgan's other books, you'll like this. He's filling in the back history of the world in his Kovacs books. The people who don't like this book are offended by parts of it. If you're easily offended, you shouldn't be reading his stuff anyway.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Nanny Diaries

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus
    • Narrated By Kathe Mazur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    What do you do when you are a nanny to an obscenely rich Park Avenue matron named X? Mrs. X refuses to do anything for herself, including cook, clean, or take care of her 4-year-old son. You are expected to do everything, including maintaining the mental health of said 4-year-old, even while Mrs. X decides that it is time for a divorce. You'll have to bear up under the strain with wit and panache, even as the boundaries between your working life and your so-called private life blur, merge, and disappear.

    Rhonda says: "The Nanny Diaries"
    "Well-written but entirely plotless"

    If you pick any random spot in the Nanny Diaries and listen for 10 minutes, you'll be entertained and want to hear more. The problem - these well written little scenes never go anywhere. They are tame little views into upper east side life and the life of a middle-class student working to support herself. The student/nanny (named, annoyingly, Nan) is good-hearted, the rich mother is mean, her husband, thoughtless and career-driven, and nothing changes during the course of the book. Zero character development. Don't expect a comedy as the trailers for the movie version of the book suggest. Its just cranky people bitching about their lives. Nan comes across as faintly masochistic for sticking around and by the time the end of the book shuffles around, you'll be ready to have her gone from your life.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Places in Between

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Rory Stewart
    • Narrated By Rory Stewart

    In January 2002, Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan, surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day, he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past.

    James says: "Nice Choice"
    "forced march"

    Afghanistan was the last stop in the author's 20 months of walking through India, Pakistan, and other countries. I haven't read his other books, which I expect might be quite good, but I get the impression that he was a little burned out when he got to Afghanistan, and just wanted to be done.

    The fact that he did this trip in the dead of winter, through the snow, soaking wet, cold, pressing on while he was tired and had diarrhea, never really resting, probably did not leave him a lot of extra creative energy to observe and interact.

    I think that many details that we as readers would find interesting and exotic were commonplace to him and he barely bothers to mention them. The place did not come alive for me through his words. Also, it seemed the country didn't measure up to some of the other places he'd been. He filled in with anecdotes of other places and had lots of details of the exploits of an ancient emperor. I am interested in history, but this was such micro detail (how they spent the night in a certain cave) I didn't feel it added to my understanding.

    I did learn about Afghanistan, but this information could have been in a good article in the Economist, and didn't need 8 hours. This author is talented, but needs some perspective and fresh eyes.

    13 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Susanna Clarke
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble

    English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

    David says: "Hang in there!"
    "cleverly achieves dullness"

    It really pains me to give this book only two stars. It really is well-written and clever, but its academic style ends up making the book feel like a lecture on an exciting subject by a dull pedantic professor.

    The author gives extremely complicated explanations and details about characters or objects that appear only briefly in the novel. I get that she is trying to create a rich, deep world, and the first few times she did this I found it amusing and fun. After 8 hours of listening, I began to cringe every time the narrator said "footnote...". You can't skip the footnotes like you could if it was a paper book. You can expect things like "Jonathan picked up a broom to sweep the floor...footnote one...the broom had an interesting history. It was made from wood from a forest at the edge of the property that..." blah blah blah. I made up that example but you find things like that, and just want to cry out, for gods sake just let the man sweep the floor and get on with it!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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