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William R.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States
  • 60
  • reviews
  • 190
  • helpful votes
  • 88
  • ratings
  • Seveneves

  • A Novel
  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal, Will Damron
  • Length: 31 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 15,238
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,154
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 14,145

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • So Much Potential

  • By Kurt Schwoppe on 06-08-17

A Technical Portrayal of Human Ingenuity

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-10-15

A significant earth-changing event occurs, setting a space race into motion to protect and prolong human kind.

If you love Stephenson’s attention to detail, you will not be disappointed. Every person’s name, every cargo hold, every astronomical term, and every rock seem to have a name and play an important role throughout this audiobook.

You are an outsider looking in at the lives of others as they struggle to persevere in confined spaces floating in outer space. There were a few characters that really captured my emotions, and others that were interesting but not captivating. The story is so heavy on describing technology that it sometimes takes over the story and you are left forgetting a key plot point.

The real missing element of this book are the narrators. Sadly, Mary Robinette Kowal did not deliver with her performance. After the first few chapters, I almost got the feeling she was reading this thinking “what the hell did I just sign up for?” and it shows with a flat performance, and poor accents for the characters.

Will Damron’s serene tone was unique but he too was not able to breath some much-needed life into the characters.

Neal Stephenson certainly has a unique perspective, a wonderful imagination, and is a great story teller. If I really liked all the technical details behind how every component in a space ship works, I would like it more. I probably would have given it a much better review if the performances could match the huge breadth and scope of the book.

  • Spark

  • A Novel
  • By: John Twelve Hawks
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 209
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 190

Jacob Underwood is a contract employee of the Special Services Section, a shadow department in the faceless multinational corporation DBG. Jacob is not a businessman...he is a hired assassin...and his job is to neutralize problems deemed unacceptable by the corporation. Jacob is not like other employees, nor is he like other people. Suffering from Cotard's syndrome - a real condition that causes people to believe they are dead - Jacob perceives himself as nothing but a Shell with no emotion...

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging

  • By Don Gilbert on 10-10-14

Needs a little more spark

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-12-15

John Twelve Hawks certainly provides a unique character in Jacob. Our anti-hero has no feelings and no remorse for his actions, so it is hard to connect with the character. Jacob lives in the future where (not surprisingly), the government has an all-watching eye and banks hire hit men to protect their illegal doings.

Since Jacob has no feelings, he is actually a pretty boring character. What makes the book interesting is how you feel as if you are watching the story unfold through Jacob's eyes. You form your opinions on what is happening rather than being preached to by the character. Your personal emotions are what ultimately drive whether you like the story or not.

As always, Scott Brick did a wonderful job narrating Spark which breathes some life into the characters. The only challenge I have with this book is how continuously dark it is. When I say dark, I mean really dark. Do not listen to this book if you are hoping for some character to come along that will breathe some fresh air and comedic relief because it is not going to happen. It is for this reason I gave the book 3 stars.

  • Crazy Rich Asians

  • By: Kevin Kwan
  • Narrated by: Lynn Chen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,946
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,646
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,642

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining, Fun Listen

  • By Mon on 01-04-14

Looked promising but I stopped listening

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-23-15

Recently, I was shopping at a book store in San Francisco's Japantown. Crazy Rich Asians was on prominent display so after a few flips and seeing some fun comments, I thought it would be a good audible listen.

This is not a good audible listen. While the story is somewhat funny, there is a lot of stereotyping and Lynn Chen did not do enough to make the cast of characters sound unique. It is hard to follow when the reader cannot add inflections to characters so you understand who is speaking and when.

Maybe it is a good book but I did not feel it was a good audiobook.

  • Yes Please

  • By: Amy Poehler
  • Narrated by: Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, and others
  • Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43,514
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37,822
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37,646

Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you're invited! Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler's Yes Please. The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents - Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not Necessarily for Knope Fans

  • By Katie - Audible on 06-04-15

Warning! Full of Parks & Recs Spoilers!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-16-14

Amy Poehler is really funny and this book proves it. I always believed she is a pretty guarded person who wants tight control over when her personal and public life spill over and her book seems to make that point. She likes to talk about her life but never scratches too deep beneath the surface.

The audiobook gets a special treatment with her reading it with some of her friends like Patrick Steward, Carol Burnett, and Seth Meyers. Unfortunately, the Seth Meyers bits are a little obnoxious because they are clearly joking around with their own in-jokes but never letting you in (my point earlier).

While Yes Please was a solid audiobook with lots of laughs, some touching moments and some funny stories, I finished very, very angry.

I never really started watching Parks and Recreations until the series ended. This was just a show I decided to watch on Amazon Prime while bored in a hotel room. I was on Season 2 at the time, but Amy goes on to tell some incredibly revealing topics about various seasons, including some major revelations about her character.

If you are a Parks and Recreations fan that finished the series then by all means, listen to this audiobook because you will probably enjoy some of the inside jokes and fun anecdotes. If you are not done with the series, or think you will watch the series, you have been forewarned. If you think "eh, I won't remember a few words she says." think again because the audiobook even includes audio clips of the series and some of the most significant story arcs you probably never saw coming.

  • Blue Labyrinth

  • By: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
  • Narrated by: Rene Auberjonois
  • Length: 14 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,180
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,801
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,785

A long-buried family secret resurfaces when one of Aloysius Pendergast's most implacable enemies shows up on his doorstep as a murdered corpse. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect murder, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased. The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California's desolate Salton Sea, which in turn propels him on a journey of discovery deep into his family's sinister past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Twists and Tuns in the Pendergast Family Tree

  • By GH on 11-13-14

A Refresh to the Pendergast Novels?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-16-14

Just like the end of the James Bond film, Skyfall, you are reunited with some familiar people and places. I really appreciated this book in that it brought back what I love about the Pendergast series.

In The Blue Labyrinth, Pendergast is forced into his own personal hell by an unseen foe whose intent cannot be determined. He desperately needs the help of his friends who do their best while never quite knowing where Pendergast is or what serious problem is taking place. Pendergast, as usual, never wants to involve other people in his problems for fear their involvement might result in their death.

Pendergast's friends include the familiar Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta, Dr. Nora Kelly, and the mysterious Constance Green. Another "character" playing a significant part in the book is New York's Natural History Museum; which always manages to have a life of its own in the Pendergast Novels.

My favorite moments were toward the end as we learn more about Constance Green as she moves to help Pendergast. She not only leaves the house, but we learn just how cunning she can be. I really like how Preston and Child went back to their roots with some of the most loved characters in the story and finally gave us a rare glimpse into Constance Green's past.

The story itself is actually pretty good until the third half as you realize what is happening. Since it takes his long to build up an understanding of who is behind the plot and why, it is a bit of a let down. The book is always filled with tension but then you have this sort of half-though-out element as to why Pendergast is in so much trouble.

There is another sub-plot involving Pendergast's genetically engineered Alban that just felt too forced and not thought out well enough for my taste.

If you have never read a Pendergast novel, I would not recommend you start here. As a matter of fact, the characters, places, and stories lead right back to the first books. If you like this book, then back track to the originals, be warned, Blue Labyrinth is THE spoiler for a 14-book series.

  • Lamb

  • The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
  • By: Christopher Moore
  • Narrated by: Fisher Stevens
  • Length: 15 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,693
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,063
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,077

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more (except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdalan) and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect for intelligent comedy!

  • By Gene on 04-17-07

Get over BIff and enjoy the story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-28-13

It does not matter if you are a very religious person, you just need to enjoy sarcasm and a good laugh with Lamb.

Christopher Moore creates a wholly (holy?) believable character that grew up with Jesus as a child and became his best friend. As most bible stories go, there are a lot of missing years between the birth of Jesus and the events leading up to his being hung on the cross. This book covers all those missing years from the perspective of his friend Biff.The book does an excellent job of explaining why Biff never shows up in any bibles but I won't give that little tidbit away.

Lamb is a pretty sweeping novel that covers a lot of ground (literally) and shows how a young Jesus (pronounced Joshua at the time) learned to be the messiah by traveling for years to meet each of the three wise men. While the book is laugh-out-loud funny at times, there was never a moment I felt Christopher Moore was trying to poke fun at religion.

Fisher Steven's was perfect as the narrator and did such an excellent job I was sad when the book ended. The characters were all fully developed and never forced.

This was a great book and I highly recommend it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Inferno: A Novel

  • By: Dan Brown
  • Narrated by: Paul Michael
  • Length: 17 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 21,840
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,630
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19,708

Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon awakens in a hospital in the middle of the night. Disoriented and suffering from a head wound, he recalls nothing of the last 36 hours, including how he got there...or the origin of the macabre object that his doctors discover hidden in his belongings. Langdon's world soon erupts into chaos, and he finds himself on the run in Florence with a stoic young woman, Sienna Brooks, whose clever maneuvering saves his life.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Formulaic and Hard to Finish....

  • By Livia on 06-15-13

Did Dan Brown fire his editors?

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-13

Dan Brown has great ideas and his knowledge of symbology shines through in every one of his books. Inferno has a great idea for a plot but the masterful use of symbols to drive past stories is not really here.

Just as my review's headline suggests, this book would have been great if Dan Brown took advice from the great editors he must have at his disposal. There is a significant plot twist that occurs in the book that Dan probably thought would make the reader/listener drop their jaws, instead it was hilariously unimaginable.

Another area where some good editing would help is in Dan Brown's signature writing style where someone thinks about something then says it out loud. Since I listened to the book rather than reading a hard copy I cannot do a direct quote but for the most part you get he impression Dan is doing this because he's paid by the word, rather than paid to be a skilled writer. What you get is a whole lot of people thinking something then just saying it out loud. For example someone might think "she's going to shoot me", then the person yells "don't shoot me", then the narrator says "a shot rang out". I have no problem with the use of this writing style if it helps with the story but it just does not work in Inferno.

Even if you are a hardcore Langdon fan, I don't think you will get much out of this book. I've been excited to see something new from Dan Brown for a long time and was very displeased. I hope he uses this experience to craft a better book next time.

7 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Snow Crash

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 17 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12,847
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,592
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9,677

Neal Stephenson is a blazing new force on the sci-fi scene. With the groundbreaking cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, he has "vaulted onto the literary stage." It weaves virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility - in short, it is the gigathriller of the information age.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cool, but complicated

  • By Jim "The Impatient" on 03-12-11

Neal Stephenson predicted the Oculus Rift

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-15-13

Neal Stephenson has a wild imagination and my only fear is his vision of the future becomes a reality.

Snow Crash jumps in and out of a virtual reality world and a not-so-distant future where there are no laws, neighborhoods are protected by a grandfatherly mobster named Uncle Enzo. The primary plot of the book surrounds a virus called Snow Crash.

I will not get into what makes Snow Crash so special but will say the ramifications of this virus to change humankind is great, but not necessarily for the better. As with most Stephenson books, you will be taking a history lesson, enjoy some good sword fighting and enjoy characters that are clearly a result of their surroundings, rather than their upbringing.

In a world where there are no real rules, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. I personally enjoyed this aspect of the book ad felt Jonathan Davis did an excellent job in voicing the characters to drive home this unique aspect of the book.

While I thought Jonathan Davis did a good job as the narrator, there were too many times where he had to pause and come back, with his voice clearly showing it. This was a bit distracting but did not ruin the book in any way.

Get ready to learn a whole lot of out there terms and character names and get sucked into this new world. Be prepared to pay a lot of attention when listening or you won't even notice when someone is in the virtual world or in the 'real' world. There is just enough fun in the book to keep things from getting too dark.

Another great novel by Neal Stephenson.

  • Two Graves

  • By: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
  • Narrated by: Rene Auberjonois
  • Length: 16 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,288
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,923
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,923

After his wife, Helen, is brazenly abducted before his eyes, Special Agent Pendergast furiously pursues the kidnappers, chasing them across the country and into Mexico. But then, things go terribly, tragically wrong; the kidnappers escape; and a shattered Pendergast retreats to his New York apartment and shuts out the world. But when a string of bizarre murders erupts across several Manhattan hotels, NYPD Lieutenant D'Agosta asks his friend Pendergast for help.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Whiplash from the emotional rollercaster

  • By GH on 12-13-12

The Nazi regime is not dead

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-22-13

There is nothing like a great Pendergast story but his deep fall into the abyss of shame and self loathing makes for a heavy listen. I did like this story and there are some very interesting twists that I will obviously not give away.

There are many plots in this book. We have Pendergast re-united with a very special person that sets off a series of catastrophic events, Vincent is dealing with some very strange crimes in the city, Corrie Swanson is on her own solving with a family problem, and Dr. Felder is on a mission to uncover the mysteries of Constance's past.

While there is a lot going on here, each of the plots are well played out and helps take the heavy load off Pendergast's dark troubles.

In listening to this book, I realized one of my favorite characters is his mansion, The Dakota. Every story seems to introduce a new room, route, or special feature of the home that plays to my childhood memories of pretending there might be a secret room somewhere in my own home. If you have felt the same about the other Pendergast outings, you will enjoy Two Graves quite a bit.

With everything I liked about the story, I couldn't stop laughing that Nazi's were in it. Perhaps I am jaded from too many bad Indiana Jones movies.

  • Merry Christmas, Alex Cross

  • By: James Patterson
  • Narrated by: Michael Boatman, Stephen Kunken, Cristin Milioti
  • Length: 6 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,071
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 876
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 864

It's Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who's robbing his church's poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again - a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Yawn!

  • By Gayle A. Orner on 11-24-12

Family Time is Fleeting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-22-13

Alex Cross has a lot on his plate in this latest outing. You will find him dealing with a mad man, then another re-occurring character who has some very nasty plans with the people of Washington DC.

What to say? I really enjoyed this book. Since the second book is already out as I write this, be aware this is a 'to be continued' storyline.

Enjoy it!