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Amazon Customer

I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

ratings
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HELPFUL VOTES
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  • Libriomancer: Magic ex Libris, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jim C. Hines
    • Narrated By David DeVries
    Overall
    (349)
    Performance
    (319)
    Story
    (321)

    Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

    Simon says: "A reasonable start"
    "Fast-Paced Fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely looooove the idea of this book. The rules are there, the idea is simple and effective, and the possibilities are endless. If you could pull objects from books into the real world, what would you pick?

    The story itself is light and fast, but there's still plenty of room for some character development, most of which is definitely aimed at a teenage audience. But for every misstep or perceived shortcoming, this book offers a great deal of fun and imagination.

    The narrator is decent. What would have been a higher score for performance is dropped by his inability to pronounce the word "automaton." This word is used a LOT, especially in the second half of the book, so the more it's mispronounced, the more it grates. Apart from that, it's clear the narrator had as much fun with this as I did.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Heir to the Jedi: Star Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Kevin Hearne
    • Narrated By Marc Thompson
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Luke Skywalker's game-changing destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he's a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there's no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot--and in the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there's no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.

    Amazon Customer says: "Adventurers with Daddy Issues"
    "Adventurers with Daddy Issues"
    Overall
    Performance
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    If this novel were written outside of the Star Wars universe, I'd classify it as a simple, fun read. I have no problem with that because it captures the equally simple and fun tone of A New Hope, but without the level of epic that film introduced us to. All of the depth that's added to this story comes as a direct result of author Kevin Hearne delving into questions about Luke's character that Hearne has clearly pondered as a part of his own fandom.

    This tale centers around a Luke Skywalker in transition. Immediately following the destruction of Death Star I, he is a hero to the Rebellion, but nowhere near competent with his abilities to tap the Force. He is perceived as more of an icon and less of a young man. Where this novel shines revolves around Luke's questions concerning his father, the Force, Darth Vader, and all of the unanswered questions that Obi-Wan left behind in the wake of the original film. Likewise, we can even see how the galaxy perceives the events of the Clone Wars, which Hearne uses to full effect. It's well done. The result is we see Luke at perhaps his most vulnerable, taking his next steps into the larger world of the Jedi Knight he'll become.

    Luke is paired off with Katari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul who specializes in her own daddy issues and keeping us aware of just how young and inexperienced Luke really is at this point, illustrating just how much he would have to grow in the three years to The Empire Strikes Back.

    I've read some of Hearne's other work, and his strengths and weaknesses are exactly the same here. He's excellent with characters and dialogue. His plots are uncomplicated and propel the story forward. But his world building is questionable at best. He creates some interesting and dangerous creatures, but in the little things he's far too Earthbound, taking me out of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. For example, the ever-ubiquitous coffee substitute "caf" from earlier Expanded Universe ("Legends") novels is all over the place here, and apparently buckwheat, noodles, salt, pepper, citrus, mint, "disposable eating sticks," and other such things from our own world can be found throughout the galaxy. I realize these are shortcuts to help make the Star Wars universe feel more real, but it brings down from epic to mundane by its very mention. Or I should say, it does for me. Maybe that won't bother others, but for me it's the little things that keep you in the story or yank you out of it. The good news is that when these things are brought up, Hearne uses these moments of down time to give us more character, which as I've said is his true strength as a storyteller.

    Bottom line, it's not a great novel by comparison of the truly standout novels in the Star Wars line, but it's a fun one, and Hearne's character explorations of Luke make it a worthy addition to the new canon.

    As narrator, I have to give top marks to Marc Thompson. As this story is told in 1st person, Thompson has to tell most of this book in Luke's voice rather than his own. Not only does he make the most of it, but he does a fantastic job bringing the other characters to life. This is to be expected, given that he's a Star Wars audiobook veteran, but credit where it's due.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • The Prince

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Niccolo Machiavelli
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (140)
    Story
    (140)

    From his perspective in Renaissance Italy, Machiavelli's aim in this classic work was to resolve conflict with the ruling prince, Lorenzo de Medici. Machiavelli based his insights on the way people really are rather than an ideal of how they should be. This is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power. Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince, a king, or a president.

    Cody Brown says: "You have to know what you get with The Prince"
    "Neither Good Nor Evil"
    Overall
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    Story

    Machiavelli's name has become synonymous with evil and corruption, and it was many years with this understanding that I first encountered this book. Now over 20 years later, I return to it with a far better understanding of the situations he writes about and who the players are, most especially Cesare Borgia, whose successes and ultimate failure were of considerable example to this work.

    With this new understanding, I'm able to see the pragmatism behind this book, how as a tool to strengthen the objectives of whoever wields it. That it's become a how-to handbook for the tin pot dictators of history is an unfortunate side effect of its wisdom and simplicity that perhaps Machiavelli foresaw when he opted not to publish it himself. But much like Sun Tzu's The Art of War or the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, this book cannot be judged by those who have taken its instruction in the ages since it was written. This book is truly one for the ages, capable of raising our awareness of both its historical context and of the modern world around us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Queen's Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By John Cooper
    • Narrated By James Adams
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    A captivating true story that chronicles the exploits of Sir Francis Walsingham - the first great English spymaster and the man who saved Elizabeth's regime and the country's independence. Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth's Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her. He ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots.

    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds says: "Different take on the Reign"
    "The Power Behind the Throne"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much has been written of Sir Francis Walsingham, both as a hero to the realm and as a Machiavellian puppet master. As with anything in history, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, and this book does a fine job of navigating the waters of statecraft and espionage that were virtually uncharted at the time. John Cooper paints a nuanced picture of Elizabethan England, explaining how it developed to what we know it to be and what particular threats were faced at the time, and then maps out exactly what Walsingham felt he had to do and why. The end result is that we get a complex look at something that's usually painted as two-dimensional, and Walsingham himself comes across as both hero and villain within the subtext of his era. It's fascinating to see how this compares to other spy/torture setups across other times and places in history as well as how the ramifications continue to affect our modern world.

    Champions of Elizabeth may have problems with the notion that the events and attitudes described in this book make the queen look weaker than modern perception might paint her otherwise. I think that assessment is to be expected considering Walsingham's operating procedure was that he only had to be wrong once for Elizabeth to be assassinated, whereas the outside forces had many opportunities to plan and attempt. Personally, I think this fits perfectly with my own understanding of how flighty and prone to tantrums Elizabeth could be at times, which is one of the aspects Walsingham had to work around when positioning his network. But that's just my perception. Regardless of how you want to perceive the queen, the fact remains, she had enemies a-plenty, both within and without, both religious and secular. To protect her was a Herculean job by any standard of the day, and for me it's a treat to peel back the layers and see how it was handled. From the perspective of a post-9/11 world, it rings with familiar echoes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hammered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Kevin Hearne
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7765)
    Performance
    (7035)
    Story
    (7038)

    Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully - he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona....

    Hallie says: "Love this series!"
    "Across the Rainbow Bridge"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've read the first two books, you know what's coming just by the title: the promised quest to end the life of Thor is at hand... but not without some stops, side trips, upheavals, and character backstory info dumps along the way. It's by no stretch the best world building I've ever seen, but it gets the job done and opens the world considerably in the process. This tale doesn't pretend to be something it's not. Instead, it just gets out of its own way so the fun can continue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy Who Loved Me: James Bond, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Rosamund Pike
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    When 007 turns up at a sleepy American backwoods motel, it doesn't take him long to realize that Vivienne Michel is in a tight spot, and that Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morant are hardened killers bent on destruction. Escaping from a past she doesn't want to relive, Viv turns to James Bond to save her.

    Amazon Customer says: "Spotlight on the Bond Girl"
    "Spotlight on the Bond Girl"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After Fleming's cinematic ramp-up in Thunderball, Fleming does an about-face and gives as a small scale story that's almost completely different from a Bond novel we'd expect. I say almost because there are still all the descriptive hallmarks of food, drink, clothes, vehicles, and weapons. But in this case, Bond isn't the protagonist. In fact, he doesn't even show up until about 2/3rds of the way into the story, and even then, it's by complete happenstance. Our protagonist here is a young woman from Quebec, and we follow her journey to London, Europe, and finally the States, getting to know her in ways that feel realistic... to a noir novelist like Fleming. As always, the little details are there to make it lifelike, and you get the sense that Fleming saw such things in his world. But let's be honest, the entire reason to read a book like this is because Fleming's world is not the "real" world as we understand it, especially given the passage of time into a more socially conscious age.

    On one hand, there are lines of narration here and there that will have feminists and most modernly-aware readers cringing. You'll know them when you hear them. On the other hand, the woman we get to know evolves into a strong person who just happens to be in over her head in circumstances that spiraled out of control. Wrong place, wrong time. Enter Fleming's off-white knight, 007, to the rescue. He can save the say, but a flat tire is beneath him. For the sake of our lady, that's probably a good thing. As a bonus, she does get to help him deal with the problem rather than being the too-typical damsel in distress. That should help take the edge off when Fleming has her refer to Bond as her shining knight who rode in to slay the dragons. You were, perhaps, expecting high prose in a Fleming novel?

    The Spy Who Loved Me is one of those stories where its on-screen counterpart has virtually nothing in common. We get no megalomaniacal supervillains here, which is an anti-climax after getting Blofeld in the previous book. Instead, Bond is facing down a couple of thugs hired as part of an insurance scam. Interestingly, one of them has steel-capped teeth, clearly the prototype for the character who would appear in the movie that uses this book's title: the iconic henchman known as Jaws. Don't get your expectations up. Jaws is a completely different kind of monster. In fact, it's probably best to dismiss any expectations up front and let our heroine tell you her story, her way.

    One of the nice touches I found in this book was that it had that early 60s vibe to it. Fleming makes mention of Jack Kennedy a couple of times, and you can tell that he's convinced the Cold War of the late 40s and 50s, and all of the politics that this engendered, is coming to an end, heralded with a new sense of hope. He couldn't know that such wasn't the case, and he couldn't know the events that would happen over the next few years.

    For narrator, it's only right that a Bond girl should take up the microphone. Rosamund Pike's performance here is as varied and nuanced as you'd expect from an award-winning actress of her caliber. She tells you in the interview at the end that she found herself shifting her body postures to suit the characters in addition to changing her voice and accents, and all of her attention to detail comes across beautifully. The character of Vivienne Michel, our protagonist, is French Canadian who spent some time in London, and all of the subtleties of that accent are there. If you stop to notice, you won't be disappointed, otherwise it'll carry across naturally. As my reviews of these 007 Reloaded audios also carry the running gag of the pronunciation of "007," I'll simply point out that it's a non-issue here. After all, Pike's a professional Bond girl, a role that she and most of the others in that exclusive club carry with distinction and pride.

    I think, aside from Fleming's obvious un-PC attitudes, the biggest weakness of this book is that it follows Thunderball. On it's own merits, it's actually a good little character drama if you can get past the obvious pitfalls of Fleming's ego.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Demonology: An Overview

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Marilynn Hughes
    • Narrated By Torry Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Demonology presents information from ancient sacred texts about the most significant demons and the manner in which to combat their various forms of attack. If you want to protect yourself from the infernal spirits, demonology will give you a framework from which to begin.

    Amazon Customer says: "Infernal Research Notes"
    "Infernal Research Notes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As with the companion volume on Angelology, this "overview" is less of an overview and more just a compilation of notes, as though the narrator is reading the unorganized journal of some researcher. As scattered and haphazard as it is, there is a lot of interesting things packed inside, much of it delightfully medieval, but beginners will almost assuredly be lost from time to time.

    It's a different narrator than on Angelology, and I'm not sure it's a better choice. The recording quality is definitely better, and the guy has a better voice, but he loses all credibility with pronunciation. He keeps putting the wrong emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle, and it borders on the cartoonish at times, as though he were trying to pronounce words using a completely different alphabet. But when he does nail it, he does a decent job, considering the mess he's working with.

    As with the companion book, my initial recommendation stands: people with a background on this subject or enthusiasts will be better suited for this materials than beginners, and in all cases, the print version will probably be better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Kevin Hearne
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8738)
    Performance
    (7862)
    Story
    (7878)

    Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II. With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt.

    A. Sentoni says: "Authenticity, Humor and Brilliant Writing"
    "A Fun Series!"
    Overall
    Performance
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    Picking up 3 weeks or so where book 1 left off, this book pushes forward. So far the series is one part Dresden Files and one part Supernatural with a dash of Highlander thrown in just for grins. This particular book opens up the immortality angle by pitting Atticus against a coven of demon-consorting witches from the WWII era. It's hard not to see the influences, and at the same time, it's so easy to sit back and enjoy the ride.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Marie Kondo
    • Narrated By Emily Woo Zeller
    Overall
    (430)
    Performance
    (348)
    Story
    (338)

    Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever.

    LuckyMe says: "Definitely one of the best books on the subject"
    "Eastern Household Philosophy"
    Overall
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    Putting aside initial reactions to certain ideas presented are mandatory as some things may seem counter-intuitive or outright bonkers. But given some thought, there are plenty of ideas worthy of consideration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hide Me Among the Graves

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Tim Powers
    • Narrated By Fiona Hardingham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    Winter 1862, London. Adelaide McKee, a former prostitute, arrives on the doorstep of veterinarian John Crawford, a man she met once seven years earlier. Their brief meeting produced a child who, until now, had been presumed dead. McKee has learned that the girl lives - but that her life and soul are in mortal peril from a vampiric ghost. But this is no ordinary spirit; the bloodthirsty wraith is none other than John Polidori, the onetime physician to the mad, bad, and dangerous Romantic poet Lord Byron.

    Dave says: "One More Mortal Sin"
    "Macabre"
    Overall
    Performance
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    As with The Stress of Her Regard, Tim Powers has created historical fiction where the historical details are as accurate as they can get, and the story he weaves draws those details into something truly macabre. It's one of the hallmarks of Powers that makes me admire him as a writer. When I found about this pseudo-sequel to that other novel, my first question was whether or not he could capture lightning in a bottle twice. The previous novel started slowly and built itself into one of the greatest vampire stories I've ever read to date. For the first third of this novel, I was thinking this was a 3-star book. I shouldn't have doubted him.

    Where The Stress of Her Regard deals with Byron, Keats, Shelley, etc., as told through the POV of his character Michael Crawford, this one deals with the next generation of poets and artists, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his sister Christina, via the POV of Crawford's son, now grown and with a life of his own. I say this is a pseudo-sequel for just that reason. The events of the story here are clearly overshadowed by and as a direct result of those in the previous novel, but this does stand on its own as well. On its own, it morphs into a magnificently sinister read. It's only when compared to the original that this one lacks anything. Even so, it's still a 5 star read by the time you hit the halfway point. I know of very few vampire stories that can hold up comparatively. It's because Powers takes the time to set everything into place, and he tells this story as though it were written like the works of the period. It just feels right. As a bonus, because the historical events are there for anyone to verify, the weirdness practically invites the reader to get to know (or to reacquaint with) the Rossettis just as the first one did for Byron and his ilk. It's the perfect on-ramp for (re)discovery of the Romantic era.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Kevin Hearne
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11274)
    Performance
    (10076)
    Story
    (10049)

    Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old - when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries....

    Chris says: "Finally, a modern day fantasy that really hits the"
    "A Fast, Fun Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Since author Kevin Hearne was tapped for a Star Wars novel (to be released next month), I decided to check out his other work. Further curiosity arose when I learned that his work on this series is being compared to another of my personal favorites, Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files.

    And now that I've blitzed through this first book, I see why. It has a lot of the same pedigree and hallmarks as Dresden, but it's also very different in the same way superheroes are similar from an outsider's perspective but very different when compared to one another in terms of tone, motive, and abilities. The magic of a druid is very different than the magic of a wizard, which lends to a different style of character and story. But at the same time, this book is still a lot of fun and has the potential to grow into something far bigger like Dresden did. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series, no doubt about it.

    I'm glad I got this on Audible. Narrator Luke Daniels does an admirable job of pronouncing the names of Celtic deities that I have no business attempting, and his character acting is a blast, matching the tone of the book extremely well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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