STORY (YA romance/action) - Requiem is Book 3 in the Delirium "trilogy." It is an engaging story of young love in a dystopian society where medical procedures are required to be performed at age 18 to strip everyone of all emotion. Emotion is evil and causes people to go crazy. The main characters are a small band of resistors who have left Portland and are living in "the wilds." The book is beautifully written and full of young emotion and lots of action. The only problem is, as an adult, I was interested in this series enough for three books as originally intended. IMHO the series is starting to drag a bit in order to stretch to four books (or even more???). I will probably listen to Book 4 when it comes out, but only if the series ends there.
PERFORMANCE - Sarah Drew has a nice youthful-sounding voice, which is perfect for this series. She does a good job as the story moves along and then - BANG - she does an emotional scene with Alex and Laina which is incredible! Overall, though, I'll give her a 4.
OVERALL - (Precise rating 3.5) This series needs to be listened to in order, and you will need to hear all of them. All three books end in cliffhangers, though this one isn't as tall a cliff as the first two. This is a good book for teengers, as there is no sex, but the F-word does come up a few times. Because of the romance, I would recommend this for teenage girls and women who enjoy well-written YA (like me), though I see several men who have given it rave reviews.
STORY (Swedish crime fiction) - There are 15 or 20 short stories in this collection, each lasting about an hour or less. I enjoyed this book as a whole but, as my title suggests, some stories were much better than others. They are written by various Swedish authors, each with their own writing style. Some are just basic detective-type stories, some are thrillers, some are dark and eerie, some noir... blah, blah. Steig Larsson himself (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) wrote one of the stores, and his long-time girlfriend pitched in a couple as well. Another reviewer, Alcairha, has written an excellent summary of each story and rated them individually. I agree with most of her opinions.
The entire first chapter is basically an introduction to Swedish crime fiction which I could have done without, and before each story is a summary of its author. I listened to all that stuff but, in hindsight, I wish I'd fast-forwarded through it because I gained very little information of interest when compared with the time spent listening to it all.
My favorite was the third story entitled "Never in Real Life," about a couple on a camping trip. Not only is it very good, but the ending totally rocks! Another story toward the end of the book is entitled "Diary Braun." I was totally confused by the story till it finished and I did a Google search to figure who in the heck it was about. While I enjoyed the mystery and suspense, I think I would have enjoyed the story more if I'd been familiar with the story behind it. If you're interested, do a Google search of the name Eva Braun and read briefly about her relationship with Hitler, their marriage and their deaths. Interesting stuff.
PERFORMANCE - There are a variety of narrators reading these stories, some male, some female. All were very good and one of my favorites, Scott Brick, narrates a couple.
OVERALL - I would recommend this to all mature listeners, whether male or female. There are some sexual references (including lesbianism) and some cursing, but not a lot of either. I hope to hear more from some of these authors in the future!
STORY (historical fiction) - I've listened to a couple of religion-oriented books lately. I'm not really sure why since that's not a genre I usually enjoy, but the fact that Meryl Streep is the narrator definitely had something to do with my decision. This story presents the Mother Mary in a totally different light than usual and it may be offensive to some, but I found it interesting and refreshing. Mary is a mother, just like you or me. She doesn't really like her son's friends (the disciples) and she doesn't believe he is the Son of God. You will feel her pain as she observes the crucifixion, and you will experience her deep regret that she didn't stay with her son till the very end, fearing for her own safety. Yeah, you guessed it, this book is very emotionally raw. The details of the crucifixion are difficult to hear. I rated the book a little low because of the "cringe factor" and also because it was a bit slow at times.
PERFORMANCE - Meryl Streep delivers, as always. She was the perfect choice to read this book. The emotion she injects into every sentence is palpable. I rated her performance a four, however, because it often sounds like she gets lost reading a sentence and then just tacks the rest of it on as an afterthought.
OVERALL - I would recommend this book for mature men and women who are in the mood for an emotional experience with some very difficult scenes. You must also be okay with hearing the Mother Mary presented as a flesh-and-blood woman with fears, faults, and who does not believe her son is our Savior.
STORY (fantasy/romance) - The summary for this book sounds good enough -- a young woman is hired to landscape the estate of a handsome software millionaire and the mansion turns out to be haunted. There are definitely possibilities for the development of a cute romance story, but I didn't hear anything in this one-hour excerpt to whet my appetite to listen further. I normally love anything that Molly Harper writes, but not this time. The attempts at humor lacked the famous Molly Harper sarcasm, and I didn't get the least bit interested in the romance-to-come.
NARRATION - Normally Amanda Ronconi is awesome at delivering Molly's snarky dead-pan humor, but even her talented performance couldn't save this excerpt.
OVERALL - The book is rated pretty high and might be good in the end. Personally, if you're looking for a fantasy/romance, I'd recommend checking out Molly's Half Moon Hollow series instead. The books are romantic, funny and outright adorable.
STORY (romance) - I loved the summary of this book and it's rated 4.3. It's well-written and performed, so what the heck happened? For one thing, I got absolutely sick and tired of hearing Ilya and Joley talk about how wonderful the other was and how much they needed each other, and then there's all the angst about whether or not they should be together. I finally increased the speed to 2X and then ... yes, I could follow the story on 3X speed without getting lost at all. It's the same $hit hour after hour!
There are a couple things about the book that are good, but there isn't enough of either to rescue the story as a whole. Joley is a successful rock star and I enjoyed the band-life atmosphere. Ilya is a sexy Russian bodyguard, and there is a mafia-type plot line to the story which is also pretty good. There just needs to be more story to balance all the stupid syrupy drama. Supposedly this is a fantasy/romance, but the fantasy part is just a telepathic connection between a few main characters. They can "think-talk" to each other. Then there's a special mark on Joley's hand that, when she rubs it, she can get Ilya sexually aroused. Give me a break.
Finally, the mafia action picks up and things get pretty exciting the last hour or so. The ending is romantic and touching ... until the author overdid that, too. If this book had been about four or five hours long, I probably would have really liked it.
PERFORMANCE - She did a good job. I really liked the sexy male voice when she was performing Ilya. Nice job, Alyssa!
OVERALL - This book stands alone, though I believe it is actually Book 6 in a series about Joley's family members. There's some cursing and explicit sex scenes, but not a ton of either. There is some violence, but it's not the thrust of the story and the author doesn't dwell on gory details. I would only recommend this for females who like sappy love stories. Men would not like this book, and I didn't either.
STORY (sci-fi) - This book was written in the early fifties and is very well done. It was probably quite unique and shocking in its time but not so much today in 2014. The story begins with a very unique premise -- a meteor shower, people who have become blind, the triffids. (They're huge plants that can walk and kill people with a stinger thingy). Shortly after I became acquainted with the characters and the situation, however, I began losing interest. The story basically becomes one of meandering the English countryside, trying to find food and shelter while avoiding triffids and disease.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is male and has a British accent. He does a good job, though nothing special.
OVERALL - No sex, cursing or graphic violence. There is quite a bit of death and disease, but I didn't find it gross or depressing. Both men and women might enjoy this story, but it's definitely not for children. The book comes to a satisfactory conclusion but the door is left open for the story to continue. At the very end the narrator mentions another book which can be purchased if you want to continue the saga. The Day of the Triffids is highly rated and was nominated for an award within the past few years, so you might want to give it a try despite my comments.
STORY (time travel) - Okay. So there's two guys who are best friends. They're quantum physicists and have created a time-travel machine. One believes in God (David) and one doesn't (Tom). In a nutshell, they go back in time so that David can prove to Tom that God exists. The proof will be simply that Jesus either does or does not rise again after being crucified on the cross. The story goes back and forth between present day and BC, with probably more time spent BC.
Some reviewers have criticized the book as being overly religious, but I disagree. (I'm not particularly religious and I don't care for Christian books, so that is where I'm coming from when I say this.) That being said, religion is definitely a component to the story that you will have to be able to accept. David and Tom will meet Biblical characters and witness Biblical events, but I found it interesting to hear how they managed to exist in that time period and I enjoyed their bickering and present-day viewpoints. And there's a lot more going on, too. There is the sci-fi element of the time travel. There is also quite a bit of action, as David and Tom are pursued by the equivalent of "time travel police," whose job is to keep the past from being altered. There is also some mild romance. I thought the book was well-done and definitely a unique concept. My only complaint was it seemed a little slow at times, but it was still quite enjoyable.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator did a great job. He did Hebrew and African accents well, but I absolutely LOVED the way he performed the various characters when they were possessed by the demon called "the Legion." This demon is actually 50 demons all occupying the same body, often all trying to speak at once. The narrator did an awesome job of spitting out multiple voices in very rapid succession, sometimes with several voices in the same sentence. Wow.
OVERALL (actual rating 3.5) - This book stands alone. There is no sex, cursing or graphic violence. I'd recommend this to any adult who thinks they might enjoy the subject matter.
STORY (teen historical fiction) - This is Book 1 in the Magnificent Devices series. It is probably a great book for teens but, let's face it, I'm not a teen and I bought it by mistake. It's well-written and beautifully performed, but the story is simple and fairly juvenile. It is based somewhere in England in the early days of steam engines. The main character, Claire, is a young lady of fine breeding who graduates from the English equivalent of high school. Then through a series of events, she finds herself on the streets, penniless, and taking care of a bunch of orphan children and surviving in the underworld. The characters are endearing, but the story just never had enough going on to interest my adult brain. The ending of the book is more like the beginning of a new alliance, so you will need to continue the series if you want to come to the conclusion. I'm stopping here.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is female and has a lovely voice. I enjoyed listening to her read the story.
OVERALL - No sex or cursing and just a tiny bit of violence, so it's fine for teenagers. Just remember the story doesn't stand alone. I'd recommend for girls more than for guys because the main character is female. Adults need to skip this book.
STORY (historical fiction) - This story reminds me of the movie "Stand By Me." It is set in a small town in Minnesota in the early sixties and is told by Frank who, now grown, is looking back on one particular summer of his youth which was plagued with numerous tragedies. The book is very character-driven, and by the end you will know each character intimately. In small town USA everyone knows everyone's business and , when tragedies strikes, it affects the whole town. Ordinary Grace is about how this town deals with sadness and the mysteries surrounding that sadness. It is a coming-of-age story with elements of personal growth, faith, family, death, forgiveness......life.
I might have rated the book a 5, but it was a little slow getting started, in my opinion. There are two very touching parts of the story, and it's hard to describe them without giving away part of the mystery. Hints: Nathan gives a very touching sermon after someone's death. The best part of the book is the "Ordinary Grace," which is more like an Amazing Grace.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is male. He had a pleasant voice and did a good job distinguishing between the different characters.
OVERALL - Only mild references to sex and pregnancy, and I don't recall any foul language. The book stands on its own. The story is interesting and emotional, but it's not so intricate that you have to pay close attention for fear of missing something. Recommended for all mature listeners, male or female.
STORY (contemporary romance) - Love Irresistibly continues with all the things I like about this series. The main characters are intelligent and successful, there is an interesting plot going on besides just the romance and there is lots of sassy dialogue! In this book, Cade is a successful US Attorney and Brooke is the corporate attorney for an elite restaurant chain. They are thrown together as part of a criminal investigation Cade is working on, and the clever banter and sarcasm begins...until they start realizing they might actually like each other. There is also a pretty good sub-plot involving Cade's new-found brother, Zack, which Cade didn't realize existed.
There is sex in this book and it's fairly explicit, but it is only a few scenes and they're relatively short. Personally, that's how I like my romance novels -- hot but not a lot!
PERFORMANCE - As always, I enjory Karen White's narrations. Not only does she do a good job, but her natural voice lends itself equally to portraying male and female characters well. No wimpy, nasally Romeo here!
OVERALL - This romance stands alone, though there are "updates" on characters from previous books (like Cameron from Book 1 is now pregnant, etc). If you think you might be interested in all the characters in the series, you need to start with Book 1. There is explicit sex as mentioned above, and there are a few F-words in sexual situations. Nice, easy listen with no violence. Highly recommended for any female who enjoys contemporary romance stories!
STORY (futuristic sci-fi) - Ender's Game is the story of a young genius boy's training in Battle School. He is Earth's greatest hope of surviving an invasion by the Buggers. There are four free chapters of Ender's Game Alive, which together total about 1 1/2 hours. They will take you basically through Ender's initial encounters in Battle School so you will get an idea about the story and performance but, obviously, the story is just beginning and the cool stuff is yet to come!
PERFORMANCE - I listened to the regular version of Ender's Game in its entirety before I listened to these four chapters. Both versions are good, but I like this Alive version slightly better than what I listened to. It has sound effects and more voices, etc. Unfortunately, both versions have adults reading the roles of children, but they're still good performances.
OVERALL - I'd recommend listening to these four teasers and then the sample of the regular Ender's Game before you decide which version you want to hear, but you should definitely listen to the story. I think any audience - male, female, young, old - will enjoy it immensely. There's no sex or cursing, but there is some violence between the students in Battle School.
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