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James

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Member Since 2010

71
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 24 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 33 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Anthony Powell
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (24)

    Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.

    James says: "A Modern (but Subtle) Masterpiece."
    "A Modern (but Subtle) Masterpiece."
    Overall

    I love this series, although not everyone will. There is not much action. In fact, the author's genius lies in making small events interesting and compelling, as trivial incidents take on a larger than life character. The language is exquisite with a subtlety we have pretty much lost in the past few decades but that some readers will find refreshing and delightful, as I do. I often find myself pausing to appreciate a particular turn of phrase. The series also contains humor and pathos, and provides considerable insight into various aspects of human relations.

    The first novel in the series is a coming of age novel set in an English "public school" (i.e. a private school in North American terminology) and then at Oxford and is reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited and various other novels. Later novels follow the narrator through to late middle age against the background of the great events of the mid-20th century. But the great events never take center-stage, which is always occupied by small scale yet fascinating interactions between the characters.

    I had read the series three times before listening to it, and I found listening provided a new dimension to my appreciation. Before starting I was worried that the narrator might not do justice to the text but he is actually very good.

    Anyone looking for an action-packed adventure should look elsewhere, but for those who enjoy the subtleties of the English language and who find mid-20th century England an enjoyable milieu this series would be a good investment.

    60 of 61 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield: Lost Stars, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    Overall
    (694)
    Performance
    (651)
    Story
    (649)

    Following a successful coup, the leaders of the rebel Midway Star System struggle to forge a government free enough to please its citizens yet strong enough to secure power. But in a world where former rulers have become new foes, an alien threat to humanity may turn old adversaries into uncertain allies. General Artur Drakon knows three words describe someone who confides in a Syndicate CEO: Stupid. Betrayed. Dead. Despite his misgivings, he partnered with another former CEO to overthrow Syndic forces.

    Joki says: "Still Great!"
    "Gripping Novel but Cliffhanger Ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Lost Stars series describes many of the same events as the Lost Fleet series and the Beyond the Frontier series but from a different point of view. I like the approach, borrowed from the Alexandria Quartet. I find the characters compelling, the plot lines interesting, and the political and military detail very plausible and insightful. I would have given the first 95% of the book five stars. However, I did not like the ending, which leaves the key issue in the novel unresolved and has two major plot twists. Campbell abandons his normal approach of careful, plausible plot development. I had been completely drawn into the reality of the story and suddenly, in the last few minutes, found the spell broken as the author introduces a stereotypical megalomaniac plot line that seems implausible.

    I hope the author rescues the plot line quickly in the next novel in the series. And I hope the next novel actually has an ending that is not yet another cliffhanger.

    Still worth worth reading or listening to, but I suspect it would be more satisfying to be able to read the sequel right away.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Flashman and the Dragon: Flashman, Book 10

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By George MacDonald Fraser, Kati Nicholl (abridged by)
    • Narrated By Toby Stephens
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In China, in 1860, a lot of people mistakenly put their trust in Flashman: the English vicar’s daughter with her cargo of opium; Lord Elgin in search of an intelligence chief; the Emperor’s ravishing concubine, seeking a champion in her struggles for power; and Szu-Zhan, the female bandit colossus, as practised in the arts of love as in the arts of war. They were not to know that behind his Victoria Cross, Harry Flashman was a base coward and a charlatan. They took him at face value. And he took them, for all he could, while China seethed through the bloodiest civil war in history.

    James says: "Good for an Abridged Version"
    "Good for an Abridged Version"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love the Flashman series and this is one of my favorites. I would have preferred the unabridged version but this abridgment was very well done and I found the book very enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1040)
    Performance
    (954)
    Story
    (962)

    The authority of the Syndicate Worlds’ government is crumbling. Civil war and rebellion are breaking out in many star systems, despite the Syndic government’s brutal attempts to suppress disorder. Midway is one of those star systems, and leaders there must decide whether to remain loyal to the old order or fight for something new.

    Aser Tolentino says: "Enjoy OBSTLT (or Be Subject to Life Termination)"
    "Under-rated and Very Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jack Campbell (J.G. Henry) is one of my favorite SF authors and this is an excellent novel (an offshoot of the Lost Fleet Series). The thing I like about J.G. Henry is that the gets the small things right -- the characters, the interactions, the details of life in a military environment -- it is all consistent and makes sense. He does not overindulge in emotion and histrionics and extensive battles. He has some good battle scenes but, ultimately his books are based mainly on interactions between characters. The building trust (professional, not romantic) between Drakon and Iseni -- former Syndicate CEOs -- is very interesting and satisfying.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4284)
    Performance
    (3850)
    Story
    (3925)

    The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in the trilogy, tells of the fateful power of the One Ring. It begins a magnificent tale of adventure that will plunge the members of the Fellowship of the Ring into a perilous quest and set the stage for the ultimate clash between the powers of good and evil.

    Ellen says: "At last - The Definitive Recording!"
    "Outstanding!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is great to finally get the unabridged version of LOTR from Audible - the greatest fantasy series of all time. I asked for this from Audible at least a couple of times and I assume many others sent in requests as well. I am just delighted to finally get it. I listened to it on audio cassette many years ago and it is just great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Litigators

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3762)
    Performance
    (3064)
    Story
    (3027)

    The incomparable master of the legal thriller takes us deeper into the labyrinth that is the American justice system, always drawing us in with an irresistible hook, pulling the thread of tension tighter and tighter, and then knocking us out with a conclusion that's never "by the book". Maybe that's why, after more than 20 years of consecutive number-one New York Times best sellers, a new novel by America's favorite storyteller is still a major publishing event.

    June says: "Typical Grisham, entertaining"
    "Humour with Suspense"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Nice to see Grisham turn his hand to humour -- combined with some suspense and the usual thoughtful insight into an element of the legal profession. Could be my favorite legal novel ever.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Gregory Maguire
    • Narrated By John McDonough
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4224)
    Performance
    (1915)
    Story
    (1939)

    Heralded as an instant classic of fantasy literature, Maguire has written a wonderfully imaginative retelling of The Wizard of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's point of view. More than just a fairy tale for adults, Wicked is a meditation on the nature of good and evil.

    Suzn F says: "I was not sure for a while then......."
    "Clever but frustrating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of those frustrating novels where no plans every work out, where the protagonists are doomed to failure, and everything that happens is depressing. The idea that the Wicked Witch of the West from the Oz story might have her own point of view is a clever one. The novel starts out well. But it reaches its peak when the witch is still at school and then goes downhill. Even the witch herself becomes a less attractive character as the story goes on and most of the sympathetic characters are killed off or change for the worse.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Term Limits

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Vince Flynn
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (938)
    Performance
    (756)
    Story
    (750)

    In one bloody night, three of Washington’s most powerful politicians are executed with surgical precision. Their assassins then deliver a shocking ultimatum to the American government: set aside partisan politics and restore power to the people. No one, they warn, is out of their reach—not even the president. A joint FBI-CIA task force reveals the killers are elite military commandos, but no one knows exactly who they are or when they will strike next.

    Tundrabeast says: "IN THE BEGINNING"
    "Early Flynn -- Too Early"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Laughable plot in which the "hero" leads a group of former soldiers in a plot to kill politicians who refuse to balance the budget (along with one senator who revealed confidential information while drunk, leading to a military mission being compromised). This is right-wing propaganda in extreme form. The heros all love their guns -- anyone who is not a gun nut is of suspect character. Flynn's later novels -- the Mitch Rapp novels -- are enjoyable even for people who are not right wing zealots, although the political orientation of the writer is clear. Term limits, however, has too many rough edges -- and the plot does not make sense. In the final resolution somehow the deficit spending issue that prompted the initial assassinations is forgotten.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Cryoburn: A Miles Vorkosigan Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (1218)
    Performance
    (633)
    Story
    (632)

    Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter, Miles, to check it out

    Kevin says: "Its nice to come Home!"
    "The best modern science fiction author"
    Overall

    Another outstanding novel from Lois McMaster Bujold. When I was young I thought the great science fiction and fantasy masters were Asimov, Tolkein, and Heinlein. I would now add Bujold to that group and would probably put her ahead of Heinlein. Miles Vorkosigan is the best character in modern science fiction. This book, once again, extrapolates current science to create an interesting backdrop to an excellent plot and excellent characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Land of Painted Caves: Earth's Children, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Jean M. Auel
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1208)
    Performance
    (720)
    Story
    (731)

    Ayla, one of the most remarkable and beloved heroines in contemporary fiction, continues to explore the world and the people around her with curiosity, insight, and, above all, courage. As the story opens, Ayla, Jondalar, and their infant daughter, Jonayla, are living with the Zelandonii in the Ninth Cave - a shelter of stone. Ayla has been chosen as an acolyte and has embarked on the arduous task of training to become a spiritual leader.

    phillip says: "Be careful what you wish for!"
    "A New Record for Filler"
    Overall

    I enjoy most audiobooks -- but I find myself unable to finish maybe 5% to 10% -- audiobooks I do not enjoy. The Painted Caves would have been in that category but I found myself fascinated by the question of how bad it could get. Without doubt the book sets a new standard for filler -- material repeated from previous books and material repeated again and again in this book.

    The Mother's Song (or Poem or whatever it was) is laughably bad and the long repeated introductions between characters also became a joke. And the descriptions of the Caves were interminable. Even the basic plot line was repeated from the third book of series -- Ayla and Jondelar have a misunderstanding that causes them to nearly break up and causes great harm to others -- a misunderstanding that should have been cleared up in a 5 minute conversation (okay, maybe 2 minutes).

    Also, the characters lost believability, with Ayla and Jondelar both doing things completely out of character toward the end of the book.

    The first book in the series (The Clan of the Cave Bear) was an interesting concept and was well executed. The other books were not as good and were slow-moving but not bad. This book is dreadful.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kings of the North: Legend of Paksenarrion, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Moon
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (356)
    Performance
    (281)
    Story
    (284)

    Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike. On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large.

    Morris says: "Absolutely worthless"
    "Good Story, Bad Reader"
    Overall

    I have enjoyed the previous Paksenarrion books a great deal. I was very disappointed in this case -- and the problem is entirely because of the narrator. The story is good, but I found I just could not listen to the narrator.

    She seems to have very limited ability to vary accent, pitch, and other vocal qualities to represent different speakers. Here principle method of creating a difference between characters is to have one character shout, while other character speaks in a normal voice. The shouted voice reminds me of a child shouting his or her lines in a school play -- including being overly precise with pronunciation.

    Most readers are remarkably good at creating an alternative reality just through their voice. In this case it was the opposite. I would love to have book done again with the original narrator.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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