In my opinion, this book is the only standalone story in this series since The B-Team (first episode). It is clever and humorous, yet within the realm of The Human Division sci-fi background. I would definitely recommend this for a light 58-minute listen!
STORY (European classic) - This is a fairy tale about a little girl who is trying to rescue a dear childhood friend. As an adult, I found it pretty boring. I never got into the main character and, thus, never really cared about what she was trying to accomplish. I also got annoyed by all the characters' names being prefaced by "Little." Little Gerta went here and Little Kay did this and the Little Robber Girl did that.
Didn't care for the book, but it is written in some nice, descriptive, wintery language. There you have it, short and sweet.
PERFORMANCE - This is the first time I've listened to Julia Whelan, and she has a lovely voice. Her reading of this story gave it a very wondrous, magical flair (even though the story fell flat, IMHO). It wasn't a difficult performance, but I will look for more books narrated by this Narrator of the Year 2014.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this for young children only but thank you, Audible, for the free holiday listen!
STORY (true historical) - This is the story of Mary Ingles, a truly incredible woman. It begins with a brutal Indian raid on her pioneer settlement in Virginia where people are massacred and scalped. Pregnant Mary and her two sons are kidnapped and transported to an Indian village where they are held captive for several months, but Mary eventually manages to escape. Leaving her children behind, she begins a grueling 43-day trek 1,000 miles across the wilderness, with only the clothes on her back, a blanket, a knife, a tomahawk and a crazy old Dutch woman. The terrain is often mountainous and difficult, food is scarce and winter is approaching, but Mary is driven by a strong will to survive and to see her husband, Will, again. Her strength and courage is amazing and so is her story.
At the end of the book is a note from the author where he explains how he compiled his information to write this book, as well as some additional information. (And just FYI, this book is about Mary INGLES, not Mary INGALLS of Little House on the Prairie fame.)
PERFORMANCE - I can't quite understand why Audible chose a male to narrate the story of Mary Ingles. He tries his best to perform a female voice when she is supposed to be speaking but is not really able to inject proper emotion into that high voice. Sometimes the result is that she sounds too "perky" in what is otherwise a dire situation. Otherwise, he does a good job.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this book for adults who enjoy stories of pioneer America and don't mind listening to hours of hardship, challenge and suffering. I don't know why Audible suggests this book for teens. There are no teen characters and, while older teens could certainly hear this story, I don't think they'd enjoy it. There's a tad of profanity and no sexual acts, though there is discussion of potential Indian rape. Mary flashes back to passionate evenings with her husband, but they're described with almost no detail. The Indian raid at the beginning of the book is totally gross, and some of the treatment of the prisoners in the Indian village was very cruel as well.
STORY (romance) - I have loved all three books in this series so far. The romances are HOT and the background stories are really, really good! In this story Mark and Sophie share a special night in high school, then he leaves to serve his Country in Afghanistan. They happen to meet again 12 years later -- I'm really condensing here -- and they quickly find themselves on the run. There are some bad guys after them, and they're also fugitives from the law.
The story is complex and exciting. Mark and Sophie sizzle, which leads me to my only real complaint about this story. I had to move the narration speed up to 2X a couple times to get through the sex scenes. I wouldn't say there's too much sex (I'd guess maybe 15 minutes in the whole book) but it was beyond my personal limits and I was anxious to jump past the passion and get back to the story. Otherwise, I loved the characters, their plight and the ending!! It's really a good book.
PERFORMANCE - As far as I'm concerned, the only person who should ever narrate a romance is Kaleo Griffith. Wouldn't you much rather hear a young, sexy man's voice than a woman reading a romance? His voice is husky and sensitive. Perfection!
OVERALL (Actual overall rating 4.5) - The books in this series stand alone. There is character development running through the series, but it's not important enough to really worry about listening to the books in order. There's quite a bit of profanity, explicit sex, and the topic of rape is addressed multiple times. There's some violence, but not a lot and it's not the gory kind. I'd say this is a must-read for adult females who like hot romances.
STORY (mystery) - I usually find humorous mysteries stupid and totally lacking any entertainment value, but I love this series and this book. The main character, Georgiana, who is a distant relative of the English Queen, travels to a castle in Transylvania to be a bridesmaid for a dear friend. She takes with her Queenie, her bumbling Cockney maid. When she arrives at the castle, she finds that her promiscuous best friend, Belinda, has finagled her way onto the guest list, as has Georgiana's mysterious romantic interest, Darcy O'Mara.
Things become creepy as the characters get near the castle. They hear wolves howl, and peasant villagers stare at their coach and cross themselves. Upon arrival at the castle, they meet Count Dragomere, a mysterious Romanian servant. Georgie thinks she sees someone wearing a black cape climbing up the castle wall late at night, and she is later visited by a dark stranger standing over her bed. She doesn't believe in vampires, but the hints are hard to ignore. Then there's a murder and a suspicious death. I won't give anything away, but Georgie and company set out to solve the mystery, and there's lots of royal fun along the way.
PERFORMANCE - Katherine Kellgren must be heard to be believed. She's my favorite female narrator, hands down. She gives the pompous royal characters a humorous twist and performs great foreign accents. The voice of promiscuous Belinda is a hoot, as well as her portrayal of the Cockney maid Queenie. Listen!
OVERALL - This is Book 4 of the series and the mystery in each book stands alone, though there is character development that runs throughout the series. It is light and humorous, even though there's a murder and some mild promiscuity. I would recommend this book for girls/women high school age and above. You'll thoroughly enjoy it!
STORY (sci-fi) - The Retrieval Artist series is set in a time where intergalactic commerce is in its infancy. Laws from other worlds are often broken by humans who didn't even know of the existence of the law. Alien enforcers come to collect human "criminals" and subject them to the punishment their world expects for those crimes. Thus, many humans decide to become "Disappeareds," seeking the help of agencies who give them new identities and new lives where they can evade alien law enforcement. Thus, the evolution of "Retrieval Artists," whose job is to find Disappeareds at the request of family members in emergencies or other special circumstances.
The main character, Miles Flint, is a police officer who has recently been promoted to detective. He is faced with alien enforcers from two different worlds who have come to collect their criminals. The only problem is, Flint and his partner aren't convinced that they've committed any sort of crime, at least according to earth standards, and decide to investigate for themselves. Everything about this book is unusual and interesting -- the aliens, the "crimes," the disappearances, the city on the moon under Armstrong Dome where the story takes place. It's all just a fresh new concept that's very well done. I look forward to hearing future books in this series.
PERFORMANCE - Good job. Reminds me a little of Scott Brick (another Audible narrator).
OVERALL (actual overall rating 4.5) - There's no sex, and I don't recall any profanity. There's not much violence and only one fairly grisly crime scene description. I'd recommend this book for adults, male or female, who enjoy sci-fi and detective work. It is Book 1 in the series, and you should definitely start at the beginning. The story can stand on its own, but there's lots of character development that will certainly carry into future books. (SLIGHT SPOILER: In the end Flint quits his detective job to become a Retrieval Artist, so I suspect Book 2 will begin his training in that profession).
STORY (chick lit) - First off, the cover art is misleading (one of my pet peeves). The story takes place in South Beach, Florida, but there's no time spent leisurely laying in hammocks at the beach. To the contrary, it's about two mother/daughter duos and a single woman who work their butts off. They previously were successful in renovating a home together where they became dear friends. Now they've been offered a chance to renovate the historic Millicent as a pilot for a possible new TV series called "Do-Over." The women are all financially strapped and jump at the chance but, as things progress, they realize the producers are more interested in making a reality show revolving around their personal baggage than in the renovation of the home itself.
You will enjoy hearing about their daily work and progress with the renovation, which is interspersed with conversations and events happening in their personal lives. They try to preserve their privacy and talk in secret, but the cameramen are relentless. There is marital discord, mother/daughter issues, custody issues, new romance and the search for a missing child. The ending ties everything up neatly so the book stands alone, but not all issues are completely and happily resolved.
PERFORMANCE - Amy Rubinate does a good job, but she doesn't do much in the way of distinguishing between characters other than a Southern accent she gives to Maddie and Kiera.
OVERALL (actual rating 3.5) - There's references to sleeping together and a couple short, non-explicit sex scenes. There's very little cursing EXCEPT one really obnoxious character drops like 15 F-bombs in as many seconds each time she appears in the story. (Luckily, that's only about three times.) I'd recommend Ocean Beach for mature females who are looking for an easy listen. You won't have to concentrate to keep up with the story, and you're not going to have your emotions wrenched.
STORY (espionage thriller) - Okay. The Toymaker is not going to win any awards and some of the points in negative reviews I've read are valid -- there is testosterone-driven action, stereotypical characters, motives of revenge and a dramatic narrator -- but boring? I must have read a different book. I would say just the opposite. It's fast-paced and exciting from beginning to end with terrorists, neat gadgets and lots of twists and turns. It's also not hard to follow what's going on, so it's an enjoyable, easy listen.
PERFORMANCE - I don't understand why so many people complain about Scott Brick. It's true that he overdramatizes a bit, but I'm totally fine with it. I like his voice, and he definitely doesn't deliver a boring or monotone performance.
OVERALL - There's no sex or violence, and the violence is not gory or graphic. I recommend the book to anyone who's looking for an easy but exciting listen. It's not perfect, but I was thoroughly entertained.
STORY (historical fantasy) - The premise of this book sounded good, but I almost stopped listening multiple times because I couldn't get into it. Britain's war with Napolean is raging, but in this story both sides possess dragons which add an aerial component to the battles. The dragons are intelligent (they talk) and loving. The main character in this book is present at the hatching of a very rare dragon which he eventually comes to possess and name Temeraire. Much of the book is about the care, feeding and training of Temeraire as he grows from a hatchling into a very powerful adult dragon.
The most interesting parts are the battles themselves but, being an animal lover, they made me cringe. The dragons drop bombs on enemy ships but they also claw and rip at enemy dragons with their talons, and once I became "acquainted" with the dragons I didn't like these scenes. They probably won't offend most people, but I'm a sissy when it comes to animals and pain. Anyway, the book gets decent by the end, and there is an epilogue where they discuss the characteristics of different breeds of dragons which is pretty interesting.
PERFORMANCE - Simon Vance does a great job with multiple voices and accents. Temeraire sounded kind of robotic, but then I wouldn't know what to expect from a talking dragon.
OVERALL (actual rating 2.5) - I don't recommend this book for anyone. The plot is too simplistic to be engaging for adults. Even though there are talking dragons, the presentation of the book doesn't seem to be meant for children and I think they'd find it boring. There is no profanity, sex or particularly graphic violence. It is Book 1 of a series but I think it can stand alone, and I'm definitely not planning to hear Book 2.
STORY (Western fiction) - This is Book 3 in the Longhorn series, and I must admit I have absolutely loved all three. If it's not my favorite series, it's definitely in the top two or three. Two brothers, each one thinks the other is dead. One is a successful cattle rancher in Texas, the other is an ex-gunslinger in Colorado. You will fall in love with both brothers and root for them as they navigate through the hardships of post Civil War America. It's all there -- cattle rustlers, Indians, banditos and on and on. There's never a dull moment, but there are touching moments as well. The ending of this book was so moving it made me cry, and there's still one more to go!
PERFORMANCE - Mr. Engene is the perfect narrator for this series. He has many different "western" voices he can portray, and they all will contribute to your enjoyment of the story. Some of them are a bit over the top, but it's great listening.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this series for absolutely anyone except young children. No sex or profanity. If you'd let your child watch a western on TV with Indian raids and shootouts, you can let them hear this story. Men and women alike will love this series equally. It's an easy listen and pure enjoyment! Definitely listen to them in order.
STORY (military sci-fi) - Courageous is Book #3 in The Lost Fleet series. Capt. Geary, who escaped death and survived in an escape pod for 100 years, now finds himself caught in a perilous future where he must command an Alliance fleet in multiple deadly battles with the Syndics (another race of humans). This book continues the same threads as the first two books. Some of his crew worships him while others are nearly mutinous. His fleet is badly damaged, low on weapons and fuel, and cannot find a safe path back to the safety of Alliance space. The Syndics pop up everywhere and sometimes seem to know Geary's next move and be a step ahead of him. But how? There seems to be another alien entity "manipulating" things. Who or what are they? How do they get their information? Are they helping the Syndics or trying to send Geary a message? Very intriguing!
Anyway, I love everything about this book. The battles are ship-to-ship, not man-to-man, so there's no blood and guts. I love hearing Geary and his fleet captains discuss tactics and strategies for the next engagement with the Syndics. Even the battles themselves are interesting. The author has a Naval background, so the formations and movements of the fleet are described in detail and easy to visualize -- not to mention interesting and creative. Also, Geary becomes a bit more human in this book. He's still the renowned hero nicknamed Blackjack Geary, but he and Ambassador Rionne are having a romantic affair and their relationship becomes even more complicated.
PERFORMANCE - Christian Rummel does a great job. He does multiple accents and his voice is low and sexy, yet he still manages to do pretty good female voices. I must admit, however, his performance probably would have just received four stars if it weren't for the fact that I love his voice!!!!
OVERALL - This book is pretty "clean." There's no profanity and only minor references to sleeping together, having an affair, etc., with no actual sex scenes. I highly recommend this to adult sci-fi lovers, both male and female. It's mysterious, tense and the characters are very human. You should listen to the series in order, but each book can "stand alone." Due to the fact that the fleet is in the middle of a six-book journey back to Alliance space, the ending of this book is actually Geary preparing to face the Syndics yet again!
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