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Peter Wombat

The Northwest, USA
  • 27
  • reviews
  • 16
  • helpful votes
  • 49
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  • Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets

  • An Audible Original
  • By: John Woolf, Nick Baker
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,856
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,831
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11,785

On the surface, the Victorian age is one of propriety, industry, prudishness and piety. But scratch the surface and you’ll find scandal, sadism, sex, madness, malice and murder. Presented by Stephen Fry, this series delves deep into a period of time we think we know, to discover an altogether darker reality. The stories we’re told offer a different perspective on an era which underwent massive social change. As education, trade, technology and culture blossomed, why was there an undercurrent of the ‘forbidden’ festering beneath Victorian society? 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Please, have mercy and cut out the sound effects

  • By Areader on 11-29-18

Very entertaining work

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

Reviewed: 12-03-18

I can't say any major points truly surprised me but plenty of details did. It did a good job of lifting up the skirts of the Victorian era to show us those details that hadn't always been intentionally hidden but hadn't had a light shown on them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • All the Birds in the Sky

  • By: Charlie Jane Anders
  • Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,782
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,638
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,640

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families. But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Too twee for me.

  • By Amy on 03-13-17

Is it magic? Is it science?

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

Reviewed: 12-16-17

What is the essence of the world? Is it science? Is it magic? "All the Birds in the Sky" would say the answer is "yes". But nothing is ever as simple as that and this novel certainly delivers.
It starts as a coming of age story for two teenagers, a believable world created from disparate parts that will be familiar to many readers. Their paths cross and then uncross in a natural folding and unfolding that hews true to the logic of this world, be it ours or one maybe a quarter-turn around the dial.
After that it becomes something grander, but at the same time never loses sight of the personal, of the people whose lives make up a key thread of what is a world threatened with, well, you need to read to find that out. Again, is it our world, or is just close enough? But with the big questions being asked the hopes, dreams and doubts of people we've come to know are not given short shrift.
A compelling listen with an excellent narrarator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • All These Worlds

  • Bobiverse, Book 3
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 41,526
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 38,860
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38,752

Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun. But after spreading out through space for almost a century, Bob and his clones just can't stay out of trouble. They've created enough colonies so humanity shouldn't go extinct. But political squabbles have a bad habit of dying hard, and the Brazilian probes are still trying to take out the competition. And the Bobs have picked a fight with an older, more powerful species with a large appetite and a short temper.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Satisfying End to a Fun Series

  • By Craig Schorling on 08-20-17

Almost as good as the first two

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

Reviewed: 10-28-17

I gave the first two books five stars all around but for a very personal reason had to drop the story here to 4.

YMMV but my problem was that I groaned audibly (no pun intended) whenever "Howard" appeared. Trying to avoid spoilers, but his continual lovelorn moping badly distracted, for me, from the many other subplots.

Overall, a fine finish to the series, at least for now. The book did a nice job of wrapping up the plots here. Of course, plenty more could come from the Bobiverse, but those will be new stories.

  • Pandemic

  • The Extinction Files, Book 1
  • By: A. G. Riddle
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 18 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,411
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,977
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,964

In Atlanta, Dr. Peyton Shaw is awakened by the phone call she has dreaded for years. As the CDC's leading epidemiologist, she's among the first responders to outbreaks around the world. It's a lonely and dangerous job, but it's her life - and she's good at it. This time she may have met her match. In Kenya, an Ebola-like pathogen has infected two Americans. One lies at death's door. With the clock ticking, Peyton assembles her team and joins personnel from the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the WHO.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Read this before buying, too much hype

  • By Bradley on 06-23-17

How does an apocalypse happen? This will tell you.

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

Reviewed: 09-21-17

The bad news: this is book 1 of a series of unknown length. The good news: it tells you this right in the title.

That's good, because more good news is that this book does have a beginning, a middle and an end. However, as it's part of a much broader story arc, none of those are the full story. So long as you keep that in mind this is can be a satisfying read.

The combination of personal stories of people at various "sharp ends" of the worldwide flu pandemic is well done. The hints here of how it was prepared and spread, and how it can be cured, play to the fact this is book 1 of a broad arc. We get answers, but not all of them and that can be frustrating. This is part detective story, part science fiction in both the disease and additional capabilities only hypothesized today, and a Dan Brown-like secret society with unclear motives. We learn much about this latter but we're also still in the dark on many other aspects of it. Your enjoyment of this novel will largely depend on how well you accept what this society if capable of.

There is also dependence on various coincidences that again will require the broader story to play out but they rather stretch the boundaries of belief.

One other issue I had was with geography and the author's ignoring the realities. When you can easily look up the great circle flying distance, time and posit fuel and other requirements, the suspension of disbelief becomes harder. If you have Star Trek's transporter and you get from point A to point B that way, that's fine if that's the logic of the world. But with a standard airplane, no support crews, lightly trained pilots?

  • The Boy on the Bridge

  • By: M. R. Carey
  • Narrated by: Finty Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,958
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,777
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,775

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy. The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world. To where the monsters lived.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Bridge Worth Crossing

  • By John on 05-23-17

You know how it has to end

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

Reviewed: 09-21-17

It's obvious from very early that the ending of this novel is already written. So it's all in the journey. This is a prequel to "The Girl With All the Gifts" so it has to get all of the pieces into the right places for that to take place which means this novel is always somewhat constrained. That said, it's mostly worth the journey, with a number of "ah, okay" moments.

For better or worse as I write this documentary "The Vietnam War" is being shown. A clear parallel is that how many decisions could've been so much easier for those who came later if they had known what was already known, but through circumstance (whether because of choices by predecessors or simple sloppiness) was never passed on. I don't know what order the author conceived the two books but I have to guess he wanted to revisit this universe and had little choice in how to write this as the second. But it also shares with "The Vietnam War" in showing short-sided decision making is universal.

That said, some of these characters are compelling on their own, we know "of" a few but this is their story. This does flesh out more background to how the world came to be ravaged by Cordyceps, and has an interesting coda. But it doesn't have the surprises nor pack the punch of "The Girl..."

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Daughter of Eden

  • Dark Eden, Book 3
  • By: Chris Beckett
  • Narrated by: Imogen Church
  • Length: 15 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133

Angie Redlantern is the first to spot the boats - five abreast, with men in metal masks and spears standing proud. As the people of New Earth declare war on the people of Mainground, a dangerous era has dawned for Eden. After generations of division and disagreement, the two populations of Eden have finally broken their tentative peace, giving way to bloodshed and slaughter. Angie must flee with her family across the pitch black of Snowy Dark to the place where it all started.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Surprising ending

  • By yvonne on 06-25-17

Interesting take on the events on Eden

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

Reviewed: 09-21-17

My slight downgrade from 5 to 4 for Story is around my difficulties in getting through the first half and a bit of the ending. The timing of this novel has the beginning overlapping with the latter part of Mother of Eden and then moving onto events subsequent to that timeline. One interesting aspect is the addition of new perspectives on how life is actually proceeding on Eden.

Prior to listening to this the description was that this was the completion of a trilogy. While that is accurate and this book acts as a bookend of sorts to the first two, it also makes it clear that if the author so desires he can pick up the day after this novel ends, or skip a few generations as he did before. Some convenient timings (to the author) of events means plenty of issues are internally still very much in play.

  • Earthcore

  • By: Scott Sigler
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 20 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,894
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,421
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,393

EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources, and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company's driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure. But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting...and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out first-hand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Slow start, but it gained momentum quick

  • By Jan on 12-15-17

Great story, thrilling read, good characters, but.

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

Reviewed: 09-06-17

I loved this book.

Mostly.

But a key issue kept interfering with my ability to remain in the world of the book. It's a personal issue so it will probably not interfere with many other readers, but it's why I can't give the story 5 stars.

Back on point, this was an exciting novel. The physical setting was extremely well chosen (I was born and grew up in Utah, I have friends and relatives in southwestern Utah and have spent time in the Wah Wahs. Also in Salt Lake and Provo... I graduated from the Univ of Utah...) Trust me, it actually wouldn't be all that surprising if the Wah Wahs were hosting a secret like in this novel and no one had yet noticed (except in the oral traditions of the native people's of the area.)

The characters were 'real'. I felt that the motivations were not artificial, i.e., their personalities as described led them to many of the decisions they made, as opposed to "the plot needs to have X happen, so this character will do X". Although the one quibble I have with the book (as mentioned in previous paragraph) is centered on a couple of characters and the chosen location.

The technology in the book was well thought out and properly 'futuristic'.

But really, if you want a compelling read with plenty of scares, pick this. I've read many of Scott Sigler's books and he is truly one of my favorite authors.

One final note, there were a couple of mentions of the "Earthcore" world being the same one as "Pandemic" (The Infected Trilogy). If you've read those then a couple of not-vital points make more sense, but don't worry, if you haven't then it won't really interfere with enjoying this (but if you haven't read those, you really should).

Spoiler, if you want to know why it's 4 stars for me, not 5:

It concerns two characters, Veronica Reeves and her adopted father Sanji Haak, and his position as a long-time professor at Brigham Young University. Unfortunately in my experience the way these two characters were presented kept knocking me out of the novel's world.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • 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 1,547
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,438
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,433

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

Was and was not what I expected

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

Reviewed: 09-06-17

This is hard for me to review. I felt the performance was well done but my disappointment was with the story. My problem was the main narrative about Sarat Chestnut and her family. I lost interest in that narrative within the first third of the book. After that, it was simply a slog for me to get through those parts. I believe I understand the point the author intended but after a while the polemic was simply too much for me. I knew what she was going to do and I simply wanted to have her get on with it but not have to read about what she was doing, but kept wanting to know the pathways that brought us to this setup.

I was much more intrigued with the author's world of the 21st century. For instance, I really want to know much more about the Third Silicon Crash of 2044 (going by memory on the specific year, I do not believe mentioning this is a spoiler point, as I will not describe how it is tied into the book) and how it may have led to what seemed to me major issues with his extrapolated society 60 years from now. There were many other features of society which I simply could not wrap my mind around. The focus of the story being on Sarat was what it was but I wanted the bigger pictures.

My problem is easy. I read lots of science fiction and yes, suspension of disbelief for faster than light travel is something I do often despite knowing physics. And major realignment of national borders is something much science fiction posits. But so far as I'm aware the author doesn't intend this to be read as a genre piece.

Spoilers below, avoid unless if you don't want more details.

======

Given events in 2017 making obvious many issues that existed from America's founding had not been truly settled, I had trouble with the author's contention that the MAG driving for secession would've become as racially color-blind as they seemed to be.

Where was social media? I know that climate change and the "Silicon Crash" had caused considerable havoc in California, but social media seemed to have disappeared.

How we get from today's Middle East to a democratic, apparently secular, liberal Bouazizi Empire? I'm sorry, I needed much more than just "they tried once, failed, tried again... and eventually succeeded" This seems some sort of descendant of Nasser's pan-Arabism, but if anything it seems to be wish fulfillment based on today's levels of religious fundamentalism. It's not the pan-Arab nature with which I have trouble believing, but the nature of the government there.

The Reconquista succeeds! How did Mexico take back the US Southwest? Mexico is far from a failed state but this plays back to the author needs much more to convince me how the US (and Europe) fell so far that this would've happened without a major war on its own.

Major spoiler ahead!


Finally, if I'd had a physical book and wasn't listening to the audiobook on my phone while hiking, I'd have thrown it across the room when Benjamin said he burned Sarat's papers. Why? Because he didn't want to give her the satisfaction??? But, so much information had been lost her journal was invaluable. What? People would've hated him for her role in releasing the plague? That seemed a more likely motive. Or, the only possibly valid reason for burning the papers I could think of (but wasn't in the book) was he didn't want the remnants of the American population to wish for revenge on the Bouazizi Empire for supplying Sarat with the plague to release. Sarat was dead, her family was dead, Benjamin would die soon, why not share invaluable information?

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Bourbon Empire

  • The Past and Future of America's Whiskey
  • By: Reid Mitenbuler
  • Narrated by: Brian O'Neill
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 282
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 255
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 255

Unraveling the many myths and misconceptions surrounding America's most iconic spirit, Bourbon Empire traces a history that spans frontier rebellion, Gilded Age corruption, and the magic of Madison Avenue. Whiskey has profoundly influenced America's political, economic, and cultural destiny, just as those same factors have inspired the evolution and unique flavor of the whiskey itself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating

  • By Zach on 04-06-16

informative and interesting

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

Reviewed: 05-07-17

It was a thorough tour through all of history, science and lore of bourbon. Now I know which names on the shelves are real, and which are the dreams of marketers.

One thing I would've liked a deeper dive on would've been MGPI and to where its wares make it. The whole issue of bottlers who don't distill was well covered, but not always their sources, especially this one very little known and unheralded producer.

  • Fear the Future

  • The Fear Saga, Book 3
  • By: Stephen Moss
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 20 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,015
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9,398
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,366

Piloted by a six-year-old girl, the godlike Skalm guards the Districts of TASC. Her family is long dead. Her adopted father is a synthetic copy of an alien, her nanny an artificial mind connected via subspace to every part of the globe, feeding the young girl information, finding prey to satiate her growing thirst. But the young girl is an innocent, a victim, one of millions the war has already claimed.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • An OK end to an otherwise great trilogy.

  • By Okkin on 06-08-16

Solid if unspectacular ending to the series

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

Reviewed: 04-21-17

Strange to say it seemed as if a fair amount was filler, more on fleshing out a world instead of characters or plot. But if he's right that office politics are the same in the whole universe we might be fine. Well, some will be.

As usual fine performance by Mr Bray.