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Christopher Barnes

Fairfax, VA
  • 10
  • reviews
  • 123
  • helpful votes
  • 22
  • ratings
  • The Elementals

  • By: Michael McDowell
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,529
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,299
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,291

After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama's Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Solid Haunted House Book - and that's rare!

  • By Uber Femme on 06-28-18

A spooky delight

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

Reviewed: 08-28-16

The bizarre family dynamics in "The Elementals" take a moment to get used to, but don't be deterred. This creepy treasure reeks of Southern decay in the best way possible. R.C. Bray's narration is spot on; I can't imagine this novel is nearly as good without him reading it to you. The ending is a bit vague for my taste, but not unsatisfying. Overall, "The Elementals" is an absolute treat.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Fireman

  • A Novel
  • By: Joe Hill
  • Narrated by: Kate Mulgrew
  • Length: 22 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,372
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,969
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,953

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it's Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies - before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • THIS BOOK IS HORRIBLE!!!

  • By Brent Nelson on 04-04-18

Skip this one and go for NOS4A2

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

Reviewed: 06-06-16

I wanted to like "The Fireman"... really, I did. I loved, Loved, LOVED "NOS4A2", so I had the highest of hopes for another Joe Hill/Kate Mulgrew partnership. Sadly, even Kate couldn't save this one. It isn't terrible; it just isn't particularly good. It meanders all over the place, and just when you think finally (finally!) the action is getting started, it peters right back out again. Some of the dialogue, especially towards the end of the book, is pretty wretched and overwraught. And Hill has developed this annoying habit of tacking these "ominous" statements at the end of most chapters---I assume in an attempt to develop suspense? It's not an awful literary device in and of itself, but after the twelfth or so usage...

All in all, I wouldn't call "The Fireman" a total waste of a credit, but it certainly doesn't live up to the promise of its predecessor. Better luck next outing, hopefully.

7 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • I'll Give You the Sun

  • By: Jandy Nelson
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan, Jesse Bernstein
  • Length: 12 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,469
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,164
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,164

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways…until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • As Bright as 1000 White Hot Suns

  • By FanB14 on 09-26-14

Flawed, but still very lovely

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

Reviewed: 12-06-15

This is young adult fiction, but it navigates mature themes surprisingly well, and it doesn't shy away from a realistic portrayal of teenage sexuality the way that some YA novels do. I was particularly impressed that Nelson included Noah's realization about relationship with his father and how selective his early memories actually were. This certainly resonated with my own experience and, on a purely didactic note, is probably a useful (if uncomfortable) mirror for many teens to see themselves in. My gripe with the novel centers on how it starts to drown in exposition towards the end. It's almost as if Nelson stopped trusting that her portrayal of the characters was strong enough to get across the message she wanted to communicate, and so she resorts to having the characters narrate their own internal psychological process through very unrealistic dialogue. This change in the last quarter of the novel, combined with several too convenient "random" character interactions, makes for a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise lovely novel. That being said, I still think it's worth the listen. I don't regret using the credit, and I'll be curious to see what Nelson comes out with in the future.

  • The Girl with All the Gifts

  • By: M. R. Carey
  • Narrated by: Finty Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,590
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31,954
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31,958

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius". Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hours in, restarted so husband could listen too!

  • By Pikay on 12-13-14

Brilliant!

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

Reviewed: 07-12-15

This edge-of-your-seat thriller is a wonder, from the first words of Williams's pitch-perfect narration to Carey's carefully developed and deeply satisfying ending. Child protagonists in adult literature are very tricky to manage, but Carey does so beautifully. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll leave it at this: read it! Now! And M. R. Carey, if you're listening, hurry up and gift us with another novel of this caliber!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Uprooted

  • By: Naomi Novik
  • Narrated by: Julia Emelin
  • Length: 17 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,972
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4,662
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,637

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for 10 years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Narrator?!

  • By D. Hawkins on 07-24-17

Strong performance, story pretty solid until end

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

Reviewed: 07-12-15

Contrary to some of the other reviewers' opinions, I found Emelin's narration to be perfectly suited to the main character and not at all distracting. The story is an interesting take on nature as a malevolent force, and while it falters a bit post-climax, it was fairly satisfying as a whole. The ending features a pleasing symmetry to one of the stories within the story. I could have done without some of the explicit sex descriptions---not out of prudishness, but just because they didn't seem important for character development nor particularly suited to the tone of the rest of the book---but they are a relatively small part of the story. Overall, a fine choice for your credit!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Modern Romance

  • An Investigation
  • By: Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
  • Narrated by: Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
  • Length: 6 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30,088
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,791
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,579

At some point every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it's wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining and informative

  • By ty on 08-23-15

Unexpectedly poignant

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

Reviewed: 07-12-15

I went into Modern Romance expecting to laugh and perhaps be charmed by a few anecdotes, but that was about all. What I discovered was a surprisingly earnest attempt to investigate the mysteries and perils of relationships in our digital world. I certainly wouldn't qualify Modern Romance as a work of hard science---nor do I think Ansari is attempting to sell it as such---but despite this, I found there to be a lot to take away from the stories. And, as others have said, it's somehow comforting to know that one isn't alone in navigating the messy business of love in the modern age. The stories culled from Ansari's live shows and Ansari's anecdotes about his own romantic life are skillfully combined to create that sense of comfort and solidarity. There are points where the book drags a bit, and occasionally I wanted to yell at Ansari to get out of the way of his own jokes, but all in all, Modern Romance proved quite impressive. And for those 40 and under, you might find yourself surprised at what you learn!

  • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

  • By: Matthew Dicks
  • Narrated by: Matthew Brown
  • Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 625
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 546
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 551

Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear. Max is different from other children. Some people say that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, but most just say he’s "on the spectrum". None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from everyone.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Brilliant Book

  • By Taryn on 08-24-12

Bold attempt, doesn't quite live up to potential

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

Reviewed: 07-12-15

I chose this book because I felt like Budo was such a unique protagonist and I liked the sound of Matthew Brown's narration. Overall, I'm glad I took the plunge and listened, because Brown's performance *did* turn out to be spot-on. The story, on the other hand... not as much. The very promising beginning (including Max's laugh-out-loud brilliant tactic for dealing with a bully) turned into a solidly suspenseful tale during the build-up to Max's kidnapping and Budo's subsequent efforts to save him. As the climax approached, however, the story began to slide into sentimentality, complete with overwrought emotional exchanges between the imaginary friends and an all-too-predictable existential crisis in the protagonist. That style would be fine in a young adult novel, but it's clear that Dicks isn't aiming for that demographic, and it comes across as clunky and unbelievable to adult eyes/ears. Personally, I could have done without the epilogue, as well---I would have preferred for Dicks to have resisted the temptation to wrap things up so neatly---but that could be considered a matter of taste.

The short of it? Brown's narration and the quality of the first 3/4 of the story make Memoirs a worthwhile listen. Just don't go into it with your hopes *too* high; despite its promise, Memoirs ends up just being slightly better-than-average.

  • Forty-Nine Shades of Pink

  • By: Jacqueline Druga
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Horton
  • Length: 2 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7

Felix Cramer is a dashing, eccentric and effeminately gay poet who adores his life. That is, until he wakes up in the parking lot of a national chain coffee shop and discovers not only does he have a new identity, his old life has been erased. Felix hasn't a clue why it has happened. Bound and determined to prove who he is, he embarks on a path of danger, mystery and scandalous behavior and will stop at nothing to reclaim his life. That is, of course, if his old life actually did exist. Forty-Nine Shades of Pink is a comedic story of one man's struggles. While it contains adult themes, it does not contain any graphic sex.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lots of fun, I won't lie...

  • By Fiona on 12-10-12

Avoid this one!

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

Reviewed: 05-26-13

I suspect one of two things is going on here: either Ms. Druga is only loosely acquainted with any actual flesh-and-blood gay men, or her intended audience is women who are only loosely acquainted with any gay men. The concept for the story isn't terrible, but the main character is frustratingly one-dimensional, and that situation is NOT improved by the sub-par audio quality or the truly unfortunate narration. It's not that I object to the stereotypical effeminacy of Felix---I'm a pretty nelly queen myself---so much as the fact that nothing about this character reads as realistic or remotely nuanced. I downloaded this expecting a light, fun campy listen, so I didn't go into this looking for great literature, but this audiobook failed to meet even the lowest listening standards. Don't waste your money or your credit!

  • NOS4A2

  • A Novel
  • By: Joe Hill
  • Narrated by: Kate Mulgrew
  • Length: 19 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11,258
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,495
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10,486

Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping performance by Kate Mulgrew....

  • By Leslie on 05-06-13

D*mn near flawless

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

Reviewed: 05-26-13

WOW! NOS4A2 puts Heart-Shaped Box to shame, no question. This is a phenomenal book made all the better by Kate Mulgrew's superb narration. We all know that a bad narrator can made an otherwise-great book unlistenable; believe me, no danger of that here! Mulgrew is pitch-perfect with every single character. Her interpretation of Manx in particular is skin-crawlingly good. I will certainly be purchasing any other projects to which she lends her vocal talents! Out of the 100+ audiobooks I've downloaded from Audible, I'd say I've had about a 50/50 success rate. Some have been sublime, others downright unlistenable. NOS4A2 definitely falls in the former category!

NOTE: This one starts off with a terrific bang then slows down for just a little bit to do some set-up. Don't be thrown off by the momentary lull---by the time you hit the two-hour-mark, things are revving up again and they never slow down for the rest of this incredible ride!

79 of 91 people found this review helpful

  • Wonder

  • By: R. J. Palacio
  • Narrated by: Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd
  • Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,601
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,668
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 12,659

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school - until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? R. J. Palacio has crafted an uplifting novel full of wonderfully realistic family interactions, lively school scenes, and spare emotional power.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A wonderful story for all ages!

  • By Kindle Customer on 09-10-14

Well-written YA Fiction hurt by flawed narration

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

Reviewed: 07-08-12

What did you love best about Wonder?

Wonder is a story that all middle school children should be reading. As an elementary teacher, I can tell you that it doesn't do justice to the occasional savagery of young adults, but it's still a close enough approximation to be a valuable tale.

Did the narrators do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The trouble with this recording is the narrator who performs the role of August. August is in many ways a naive and overprotected character, but the narrator's vocal presentation is not nuanced and represents him as more infantile than I understood him to be. Indeed, I'm not sure this male role should have been performed by a woman: I found her attempt at a prepubescent male child's voice to be grating and unpleasant to listen to. The narrator who performed Jack's character was much more believable as a city kid; indeed, all the other character performances (some of which may have been performed by the same narrator who performs as August, but using a different voice, thankfully) were excellent. If you can tolerate this troublesome character representation, then you'll enjoy this book. I gritted my teeth and plowed through the initial sections until the narrators switched, and I'm glad I did---the story's worth reading to its conclusion.

37 of 47 people found this review helpful