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B. Mertz

Member Since 2010

12
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 21 ratings
  • 158 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
2

  • Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Lars Brownworth
    • Narrated By Lars Brownworth
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (322)
    Story
    (324)

    In AD 476 the Roman Empire fell - or rather, its western half did. Its eastern half, which would come to be known as the Byzantine Empire, would endure and often flourish for another 11 centuries. Though its capital would move to Constantinople, its citizens referred to themselves as Roman for the entire duration of the empire's existence.

    Cinders says: "Just a delight for anyone interested in history !"
    "Informative but not gripping"
    Overall

    People who like history textbooks will likely enjoy this audiobook. At first I found it very intriguing and fascinating, mostly well-written, and fond of Lars Brownworth "just your average history guy" kind of delivery in his reading.

    As time went on I found my mind wandering and my interest flagging. I would fade out and come back thinking, "which one is king now? Which general is this?" Although it has good moments, as an audiobook this was not particularly entertaining. I don't at all regret the time spent on it, but I'll stick with books covering fewer centuries of history.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By John Flanagan
    • Narrated By John Keating
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1166)
    Performance
    (886)
    Story
    (894)

    Will is an orphan and a ward of the castle. He hopes to someday become a great hero. But he is a small boy, and only the biggest and toughest are selected as warriors. He has other talents though, and they catch the attention of the mysterious Ranger Halt. Will soon masters stealth and accuracy with the bow.

    Deborah says: "YA?"
    "Adverb's Apprentice, Book 1"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    in "On Writing," Stephen King describes adverbs as "dandelions" in the lawn of your writing, where one or two is pretty but too many turns your yard into a tangle of weeds.

    In "Ruins of Gorlan," Flanagan uses adverbs in almost every dialogue attribution. Awkward ones, too. "She smiled brilliantly," "he said encouragingly," "he said cryptically," and my favorite, "he sighed resignedly."

    If you don't mind that every earnest statement is said "earnestly" and every smile is done "winningly" or "prettily," you'll be okay.

    We meet our hero Will on the day before his choosing day. Just like a hundred other YA books. All of his friends have painfully obvious vocations, all of their stereotyped talents aligned neatly in a row so that Will is the only character with teenage angst and confusion about his future.

    Cooks are fat, warriors are strong, scribes are skinny and mouselike. Rangers are dark and mysterious. They enter the room "mysteriously."

    This is that fantasy manuscript you tried to write when you were a sophomore in high school, where you gave up after you realized in chapter 4 that everything was a cliche and your writing was not refined enough yet.

    In the choosing ceremony at the beginning, each craft master looks at a child "thoughtfully" and then accepts each child stereotyped to match their craft. The kids don't need to prove they have any particular type of skill, they're just picked, in grand regal ceremony, at a glance. Except for Will, because he's too small, and because he's the main character.

    That's how far I made it: one hour. The story is probably charming and the characters might be likable, but I have to shrug my shoulders "resignedly," and shake my head "contemptuously," because the writing just isn't strong. It reads like a first draft.

    In other news, Keating narrates this very "charmingly," and if you're looking for a stereotypical fantasy romp, this might be it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Crime and Punishment (Recorded Books Edition)

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1443)
    Performance
    (641)
    Story
    (639)

    Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is universally regarded as one of literature's finest achievements, as the great Russian novelist explores the inner workings of a troubled intellectual. Raskolnikov, a nihilistic young man in the midst of a spiritual crisis, makes the fateful decision to murder a cruel pawnbroker, justifying his actions by relying on science and reason, and creating his own morality system. Dehumanized yet sympathetic, exhausted yet hopeful, Raskolnikov represents the best and worst elements of modern intellectualism. The aftermath of his crime and Petrovich's murder investigation result in an utterly compelling, truly unforgettable cat-and-mouse game. This stunning dramatization of Dostoevsky's magnum opus brings the slums of St. Petersburg and the demons of Raskolnikov's tortured mind vividly to life.

    Greg says: "Wonderful Book"
    "Heavy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This piece is profoundly sad and deeply intelligent. At the time I was experiencing this audiobook I was also working on a Rachmaninoff piece, and I felt the darkness, spirituality, angst, and philosophy of these great Russian works.

    I believe that Raskolnikov is one of the most deeply realized characters in literature. The hopeless, brilliant, desperate spiral of events in this novel show human nature at its most vile and most beautiful. This book, which is also read masterfully, is an absolute must for anyone reading the classics.

    From spending a couple of months with it on my commute to work, I'll have to admit it put me in a pretty serious and heavy frame of mind. If you're the type who's deeply influenced by what you read, make sure to take care of yourself during this one. You might need some fresh air every now and then.

    A beautiful masterpiece.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Brothers Karamazov

    • ABRIDGED (19 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (54)

    The book probes the possible roles of four brothers in the unresolved murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov. At the same time, it carefully explores the personalities and inclinations of the brothers themselves. Their psyches together represent the full spectrum of human nature, the continuum of faith and doubt. Ultimately, this novel seeks to understand the real meaning of faith and existence and includes much beneficial philosophical and spiritual discussion that moves the reader towards faith.

    Tad Davis says: "An expert abridgement"
    "An exploration of faith and humanity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A thoughtful, deep, engaging exploration of the human condition. Even abridged, it feels long, launching into seemingly endless reverie about the role of the church or the reason evil exists in the world. But by the time I got to the end of this book, I was profoundly moved. This is a work of art. If you have the fortitude to make it through this whole piece, there is a lot of powerful insight here. Also, for a text that is mostly pretty ponderous and wordy, the last third of it has a fair amount of action and I found myself surprised at how excited I was getting. The court scene at the end is absolute literary genius. I'll be honest. I started this book thinking it would be too boring to get through. By the end, I was fighting back tears. An unforgettable story, brilliantly narrated. I need to buy the paper copy because there are some quotes I need to highlight and put up on my wall.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Fleet: Dauntless

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel, Jack Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5054)
    Performance
    (3542)
    Story
    (3576)

    Captain John "Black Jack" Geary's legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic "last stand" in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.

    Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance's one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic "Black Jack" legend.

    crazybatcow says: "Perfect example of decent military sci-fi"
    "Bring popcorn and soda"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is like one of those action flicks that's a little on the corny side so you're almost embarrassed that you like it so much, but can't stop watching anyway. Bring out the popcorn. No, we're not re-writing the scifi genre. Space navies and space marines pitted against impossible odds, being chased across the galaxy. Explosions. Concise, well-written action that keeps the story moving at an irresistible pace. I gave this book five stars because it knows its role and plays it near perfection. Straight-ahead military scifi. Fun, riveting, gets right to the point, and makes for a fun and entertaining read. This book isn't going to make you question the meaning and motivations of humanity. This isn't Asimov. But let me tell you, this is a really fun ride. Enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Final Empire: Mistborn Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9054)
    Performance
    (6459)
    Story
    (6498)

    For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison.

    Lore says: "Book 1 of a great series that is not to be missed!"
    "An absolute knockout"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I couldn't possibly recommend this book highly enough. To anyone who reads sf/fantasy, especially someone getting a little weary of all the tired old archetypes, this book is a breath of fresh air and a good kick in the teeth. Lovable characters, a brilliantly-crafted magic system, a plot that starts simple and gets unexpectedly deep and intricate. And few things make me happier than a book that's the first in a series, yet has a completely satisfying ending. In a genre overcrowded with elves, dragons, and recently vampires, Final Empire stands out as one of the most imaginative and exciting books I've read in years. Brandon Sanderson has completely restored my faith in the fantasy genre. This book is too unique for a good comparison. Just check it out. Really. I had such a good time with this one I could hardly focus on real life. Treat yourself. Pick this one up. You won't regret it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Furies of Calderon: Codex Alera, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4435)
    Performance
    (3083)
    Story
    (3122)

    In the realm of Alera, where people bond with the furies - elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal - 15-year-old Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. But when his homeland erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Tavi's simple courage will turn the tides of war.

    Jim says: "Remastered into chapters from CD."
    "Solid Fantasy Title"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book has great pacing, lots of action, and an engaging interplay between the hunters and the hunted. The magic is believable, the characters are likable, and Reading's narration is excellent.

    One of the evil characters is impossibly, one-dimensionally evil, and most of the good guys are faultless. The only other downside is a somewhat drawn-out battle scene that gets a little unnecessarily violent at times. All in all this is pretty standard fantasy fare, but coherent, well-written, tight, highly engaging, and has a completely satisfying ending, especially for the first in a series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wizard's First Rule: Sword of Truth, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Terry Goodkind
    • Narrated By Sam Tsoutsouvas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4132)
    Performance
    (2517)
    Story
    (2551)

    In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, Richard Cypher encounters a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, in his forest sanctuary. She seeks his help...and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.

    A User says: "Better than the show"
    "Bad fantasy archetypes just got worse"
    Overall

    This book kicked off a much-beloved book series. Maybe the sequels are better.
    An old, wise wizard, an impossibly beautiful girl (the last of her kind - go figure!) who falls madly in love with the main character, a grizzled warrior, a crazy witch woman in a hut in the woods, a red dragon, a child molester bad guy, an evil wizard who is inexplicably more powerful than every other wizard, and yes, several intolerable hours of sex and torture. Really?
    A forced myself through this entire four-part audiobook because I had spent a credit on it and it was recommended by a friend. The old wizard cries, the woman who's "seen it all" cries, even the evil, impossibly powerful witch woman cries. Each character has early middle-school age emotional responses to every single thing that happens. This juvenile characterization is locked in horrible contrast with scenes of wanton sex and slaughter.

    The narrator really 'performs' this one. Screams, cries, yells, growls, the whole bit. You'll find your hands reaching for the volume control when he suddenly gives you a far-too-realistic reenactment of a character's death scream. You'll wish there was a "characters act like reasoning adults" button on your computer or portable device.

    I know Terry Goodkind is one of the prolific authors of fantasy today, and I regret that I'm not likely to ever read another of his books.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (780)
    Performance
    (606)
    Story
    (622)

    When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name - Ged - and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught.

    Finance Guy says: "Elegant & unique fantasy, deliciously performed"
    "This one is a classic for a reason"
    Overall

    Incredibly engaging, masterfully crafted, full of some of the best-written and most complex wizards you will find in literature, A Wizard of Earthsea is the fantasy genre at its absolute finest.

    Those of us who read a lot of fantasy have read too many "kid goes to wizard school" books. Many are badly written with flat characters and predictable plotlines. Ursula Le Guin dazzles in this book, which though originally published in 1968, reads as fresh and new and inspiring as all great art does. The old fantasy archetypes are brilliantly and creatively revisited, and adventure abounds.

    Anyone who loves fantasy will love Earthsea, and those who don't may find this an ideal introduction. Kids, adults, you name it, Earthsea is short, well-paced, suspenseful, epic, and a delight to read. This audiobook version is excellent.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Three Musketeers

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (406)
    Performance
    (185)
    Story
    (192)

    This historical romance, perhaps the greatest cloak-and-sword story ever, relates the adventures of four fictional swashbuckling heroes who served the French kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV. When the dashing young D'Artagnon arrives in Paris from Gascony, he becomes embroiled in three duels with the Three Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. But when he proves himself by fighting not against, but with, the Three Musketeers, they form a quick and lasting friendship.

    Sharon says: "Adventure"
    "Worth every second"
    Overall

    Swashbuckling, romantic, funny, and the very highest adventure. The mystery of seduction and subterfuge, the gallantry of swordplay, and the thick web of love and politics are brilliantly read and written. I was entranced. I found myself leaving early for gigs so that I could sneak an extra ten minutes listening to this in the car in the parking lot. I loved every second of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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