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Bikram Agarwal

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  • The Fated Sky

  • Lady Astronaut, Book 2
  • By: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Length: 10 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 488
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 466
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 462

Mary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history begun in The Calculating Stars. The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but there’s a lot riding on whoever the International Aerospace Coalition decides to send on this historic - but potentially very dangerous - mission. Could Elma really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family to spend several years traveling to Mars? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic sequel to the first book ! <br />

  • By shane on 09-12-18

Overhyped

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

Reviewed: 04-09-19

This book again starts with the "rocket launch" innuendo. Does the author not know any other way of referring to that? I was irritated by repeat of this from the beginning.

Characterizations in this book felt quite weird to me. Elma was trying to be portrayed as holier than thou, but at several places she came off as self-centered jerk. And why the hell was the author hell bent on redeeming Parker. That guy was sexual predator, as the author clarified at several places during the two books. Yet, it looked like this book's mission is to establish that "aww... he's not that bad after-all." Just no. Once you are sexually exploiting people at your workplace, you have no redeeming qualities. Period.

Moreover, it looked like the story was heading towards Elma getting a crush on Parker. ffs.

Apart from all these, the story itself wasn't anything unique. First expedition to mars. Few critical issues during the voyage. <spoiler>Few people die. But they finally reach the destination.</spoiler> Meh.

And still a poor narration. Only Elma's voice was unique. All other females have one voice. All other males have one voice.

To me it sounds like this series is hyped just because "yayy... women."

  • The Calculating Stars

  • A Lady Astronaut Novel
  • By: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Length: 11 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,304
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,235
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,233

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the East Coast of the US, including Washington, DC. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the Earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space and requires a much-larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York’s drive to become the first lady astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Super impressed

  • By Mean Jane on 07-27-18

Implausible ending. Still liked book as a whole.

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

Reviewed: 03-26-19

Warning - This review contains some spoilers.

First, the good stuff. It's an entertaining read, with a good and inspiring story. It didn't drag in any chapter and every part of the story was essential. The fact that this fiction has actual historical events / elements mixed in, makes it all that more interesting. I will be starting the second book tomorrow.

What I didn't like in this book are -

1) the "rocket launch" innuendo. It was funny the first time, and maybe the second time. But the same innuendo being used every time got very irritating.

2) the part about <SPOILER>they sending a total rookie, who has never been to space, to the very first moon mission.. that's not at all believable. That ending felt rushed too much. She should've been given some minor space missions beforehand and then should've got the moon mission. But nope, directly got the moon mission</SPOILER>. Unbelievable.

Narration wise, I didn't find much variation in the narrator's voice. All male voice renditions sounded the same.

  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

  • By: Kelly Robson
  • Narrated by: Nancy Wu
  • Length: 5 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells. She's spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately, the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable with great narration, but...a bit short AND unfinished

  • By Mark Hancock on 11-05-18

Story ends like there's gonna be a sequel.

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

Reviewed: 03-09-19

It was a little slow to start. The "post apocalypse" world rebuilding process wasn't quite interesting. Quite a few things aren't explained well; like "fakes" and "plague babies", "fat babies"... which I kinda understood after covering ~ half of the book. And each chapter has a "opener" para, which doesn't make any sense at first.

It gets interesting only after the actual time travel mission starts. It felt somewhat similar to the Bob's story-arc in Bobiverse and I mean that in a good way. The concept of ancient people encountering modern people and thinking of them as gods always fascinates me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Both Minh and Kiki do dumb things, which don't make sense. Guess the author just needed those to make the next things happen. And the end felt anti-climactic. I wish there was a sequel to it, so that there's some sort of "conclusion", because the current one doesn't feel like it.

The narration was pretty bad in places. It sounded like a bad text-to-speech engine is narrating the book. Kiki's voice was endearing though.

  • The Black God's Drums

  • By: P. Djeli Clark
  • Narrated by: Channie Waites
  • Length: 3 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air - in particular, by earning a spot onboard the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie's trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls "The Black God's Drums". But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head and may have her own ulterior motivations.  

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Not for me

  • By Bikram Agarwal on 03-03-19

Not for me

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

Reviewed: 03-03-19

I bought this because this book got a nebula nomination. But after tolerating it for an hour, I couldn't continue. The story wasn't making much sense. The writing style and the narration accent requires you to pay undivided attention to it, and even then I missed what was happening. I read the ebook along with it and even then it was extremely boring. Abandoning it.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Exit Strategy

  • By: Martha Wells
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 3 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,343
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,230
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,229

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah - its former owner (protector? friend?) - submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit. But who's going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue? And what will become of it when it's caught?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • New favorite series! Best I've read in YEARS!!!

  • By Jaime on 10-02-18

Good finish to a great story.

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

Reviewed: 11-12-18

I had read the first book of this series back in February and since then, I've been collecting rest of the series as they became available. I didn't read them immediately though as I wanted to binge them all together. And after this final book became available, I did just that - read the whole story back to back. And what a story it is.

I love the media-loving, sarcastic murderbot who saves his clients even when he's not bound to. His character is so endearing that you can't not love him. His snark kept me entertained. I wish other characters were more fleshed out though. The entire series mostly looks like a one-man show.

Narration wise, it was alright. I'm glad that Kevin R. Free narrated all four books. A sudden change of voice in middle of a series would've been jarring.

#NearFuture #Witty #GoodGuyRobot #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

  • A River in Darkness

  • One Man's Escape from North Korea
  • By: Masaji Ishikawa, Risa Kobayashi - translator, Martin Brown - translator
  • Narrated by: Brian Nishii
  • Length: 5 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,051
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,763
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,761

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just 13 years old. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by false promises of abundant work and a higher station in society. In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal 36 years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Heartbreaking

  • By C. F. Gagnon on 05-31-18

Heartbreaking story of suffering.

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

Reviewed: 09-05-18

I, like many other people, had heard about inhumane conditions in North Korea earlier. But reading the first hand account of a survivor was a gut wrenching and heartbreaking experience. Makes you realize that no matter how bad we feel about our own life, those people are living a life way worse than that. It feels like a moral responsibility of the world to do something about them.

I did have a few issues with the content of the book though. The author kept saying that his father and other "returnees" didn't know any better because they haven't seen any other form of governance. But the author himself keeps acting as if he was the only enlightened one even at that age, even though he himself too hadn't been outside Japan or North Korea at that point...!!

And there are some timeline discrepancies in the epilogue of the book, where he mentions the dates of last letters.

Narration was pretty flat. Didn't convey the powerful emotions of the book.

  • Alien: Sea of Sorrows

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: James A. Moore, Dirk Maggs
  • Narrated by: John Chancer, Stockard Channing, Walles Hamonde, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,951
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,828
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,819

Set 300 years after the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: River of Pain, Alien: Sea of Sorrows deals with the rediscovery of dormant Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the abandoned mines of LV-178, the planetoid from Alien: Out of the Shadows, which has now been terraformed and renamed New Galveston. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, reformed after the collapse of the United Systems Military, continue their unceasing efforts to weaponise the creatures.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Great performances but story is weakest of the 3

  • By Amazon Customer on 05-03-18

All 3 books are almost same. Why bother?

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

Reviewed: 08-22-18

I dunno why I keep buying books of this series. All 3 books (audible dramatizations) sound exactly same as the other. Just that the books reference events in the earlier book, only to repeat the same event. If you've read one book, you've read all of them.

And the gunfire sound in this series is the worst I've heard ever.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Hope Never Dies

  • By: Andrew Shaffer
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 547
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 510
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 505

Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident. To unravel the mystery, "Amtrak Joe" re-teams with the only man he's ever fully trusted - Obama. Together they'll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America's opioid epidemic. Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fan fiction - and a cathartic listen for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Yes, you will smile, laugh, cry, cheer, & applaud!

  • By Delores O. on 07-12-18

One of the worst narrations I've heard.

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

Reviewed: 08-08-18

First thing first - I picked up this book hoping that there will be some fun Obama and Biden voice impersonations. There's absolutely no Obama in there, and just a tiny bit resemblance to Biden. I could've still looked past that. But the narrator made absolutely no effort of distinguishing different character voices. Every single character sounds absolutely the same and I couldn't identify who's saying what. One of the worse narration I've ever heard.

That out of the way, the story is easy to follow. I'd call it a "cozy mystery" though, as there's no nail biting, edge of the seat thrill or tense suspense. Still enjoyable. The bromance between Obama and Biden was too "high-school"-ish at point, but I think that added to the comedic value of the story. There are few quips here n there that made me chuckle; nothing out-n-out laugh worthy though.

All in all, a pretty average book. Would I still read the next book in the series when it comes out? Yes.

  • American War

  • A Novel
  • By: Omar El Akkad
  • Narrated by: Dion Graham
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,563
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,452
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,447

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best listen in years

  • By odin on 04-08-17

Unique story of war

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

Reviewed: 07-20-18

This review might possibly considered a spoiler, so be warned.

One of the reasons I loved this book is because it is not another "everything gets resolved at the end" story. The ticking time bomb didn't get defused at the last minute. So, a different end than the usual fare.

The story's pacing goes through hills and valleys. Intense at places and dull at others. And in between these two extremes, we have snippets of lives of people living in this war torn land. Those are gritty and down to earth at the same time. Sarat and her cute antiques in the first half were endearing. Her world flipping 180 in the second half was equally heartbreaking.

If I have to nitpick, I would say Sarat's capture and torture and release - all of that felt very rushed. Some more time could've been spent there. And Sarat's final revenge... I wish the actual execution was a longer chapter.

Narration was mostly alright. But the female voices weren't convincing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The President Is Missing

  • By: Bill Clinton, James Patterson
  • Narrated by: Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, and others
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13,995
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12,831
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12,786

The White House is the home of the president of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a US president vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so? An unprecedented collaboration between President Bill Clinton and the world's best-selling novelist, James Patterson, The President Is Missing is a breathtaking story from the pinnacle of power.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Wanted it to be so much better

  • By K. Moeller on 06-18-18

Extremely predictable story, still alright I guess

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

Reviewed: 07-07-18

From start till end, there's not a single omg twist in this book. There's just one single surprise that elicited a "huh...!! okkay" response in my mind. Other than that, it followed extremely formulaic path. I still didn't dislike the book and listened to it like watching a mindless action movie.

Things I did dislike about the book -
Chapters galore. 2-5 minute long chapters, breaking a single short scene into multiple sugar-grain sized chapters... It got irritating super fast. Get a hold of yourself, whoever did that.
Endless tries at the password guessing...!!! Cringe.
Multiple pop-culture / recent event references (e.g. wannacry) felt forced. The speech at the end felt super forced.
Narration was subpar at best. Only the female vocals for Bach's chapters were alright. And I liked the background music used in those chapters.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful