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Caleb

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  • Metal Magic

  • By: Brian Barr
  • Narrated by: Rick Gregory
  • Length: 1 hr and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 18

A metal guitarist is gifted with a guitar grimoire, which he inherited from his late father's library. With careful reading, practice, and commitment, this strange occult book could make him the greatest musician in the world...if the magic works in his favor.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bang your head, shred your axe, and cast a spell

  • By Ray Johnson on 03-09-18

Beware the Death Metal Grimoires...

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

Reviewed: 07-08-18

I really enjoyed this short story by Brian Barr. I thought the idea of music based magic was clever (Death Metal Grimoires is an awesome name, by the way) and I honestly did not expect it to go in the direction it did. The sections with Kevin's father were unexpected, well done, and I think really added depth to the story. There is some graphic violence and sex, which is probably to be expected given the subject matter, but heads up. This type of horror isn't really what I normally go for, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Rick Gregory's narration gets the job done, but is a bit plodding and deadpan.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Charlemagne: Father of the Franks, Leader of the Lombards, and Premier Holy Roman Emperor

  • By: in60Learning
  • Narrated by: William Kenny
  • Length: 1 hr and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

Charlemagne's name means "Charles the Great", a title he earned after an impressive life filled with military conquests. His life inspired countless tales, including the legends that he was 20 feet tall, that he slept under the guard of 100 armed knights, and that he rose from the dead to aid in the Crusades. While these fantastical tales are false, the truth is equally fantastic: By the end of his life, Charlemagne had been king of the Franks, king of the Lombards, and the first emperor of the newly formed Holy Roman Empire.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A quick dose of knowledge.

  • By cosmitron on 06-14-18

Good Concept, Too Much Editorializing

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

Reviewed: 07-08-18

I like the concept in60Learning is aiming for, sort of a Reader's Digest crash course in historical events and figures. Obviously such a short work isn't going to make you an expert (or even an amateur) on a given subject, but as a means of becoming passingly acquainted with a topic or person, and possibly sparking deeper interest, these works can have value.

Having said that, I have a few issues with this work, 'Charlemagne: Father of the Franks, Leader of the Lombards, and Premier Holy Roman Emperor'.

My biggest gripe is the excessive editorializing. There are numerous instances in which modern moralistic judgments are passed on people groups and individuals, as well as repeated instances in which the author attributes motives and feelings to historical figures that are almost certainly imagined. Descriptions like "brutal and bloodthirsty savages" or "an angry sadistic people who gloried in the sight of blood" are found throughout, often with no indication as to which people group the author is referring. While such descriptions might be dramatic, they are out of place in a work that is intended to be educational.

The structure is also more topical than chronological, which I don't think worked in this case. Being biographical a chronological approach might have done a better job of familiarizing the listener with Charlemagne as a person, as well as better contextualizing the events of his life.

The narration by William Kenny is passable, but often halting and stilted. He sounds like he is taking great care in his reading which makes it sound wooden and uncertain, with frequent oddly placed pauses that disrupt the flow.

Given the historical nature of the work the inclusion of sources or a recommended reading section would have been nice. I know audio books are not really conducive to proper citation, but it would be helpful if the listener desired to learn more. The information (apart from the editorialized parts) seems reasonably solid, but there's really no substitute for good citations.

Overall I like the concept, but the execution needs work. Despite these issues, I would certainly be willing to check out more of in60Learning's work.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • The Book of Five Rings

  • By: Miyamoto Musashi
  • Narrated by: Jimmy Kieffer
  • Length: 1 hr and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

The Book of Five Rings is about Kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi around 1645. It enjoys an audience considerably broader than only that of martial artists and people across East Asia. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Samurai way of thinking and living your life.

  • By cosmitron on 05-24-18

Solid Narration, Dry Text

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

Reviewed: 07-08-18

I see a lot of comparisons between this and 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu, specifically with regards to its applications in non-martial fields. While this is certainly true to some degree, I found 'The Book of Five Rings' to be more dry and technical. It is clearly geared toward students of swordsmanship and the way of the samurai. 'The Art of War is much easier to draw broad lessons from in my opinion

Jimmy Kieffer's narration is solid and clear, and it really emphasizes the teaching nature of the work.


Overall it's a solidly narrated edition of a classic text, albeit a bit too dry and specialized for my taste.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Hansel and Gretel

  • By: The Brothers Grimm
  • Narrated by: Heidi Gregory
  • Length: 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

Hansel and Gretel is a classic fairy tale about siblings Hansel and Gretel who are kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch living deep in the forest in a house constructed of cake and confectionery. The two children escape with their lives by outwitting her. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A story for every child.

  • By cosmitron on 06-20-18

Don't take candy from strangers.

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

Reviewed: 07-04-18

It's always funny how dark some of these old children's tales can be, and this is no exception. Child abandonment, abduction, cannibalism, oven murder, 'Hansel and Gretel' has it all. Heidi Gregory does her usual fantastic job narrating. An excellent production of a classic tale, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Letters to Eula

  • By: Michael Bussa
  • Narrated by: Deryn Oliver
  • Length: 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14

Sesame, an old woman in frail health, is trapped in the attic with no explanation. A woman and her two small girls live on the first floor, none of whom pay the old woman any mind. Though she tries calling out, banging on walls, and stomping on the floor, her cries for help go ignored. Sesame spends her days writing letters about the strange things that happened to her sister, Eula, who left home decades ago. It becomes certain to everyone living in the house that there is a ghostly presence, firmly rooted among them that is disturbing the peace and creating fears beyond reason.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very Erre...<br />**No Spoilers**

  • By mandymay on 06-23-18

Excellent Ghost Story, with a Twist

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

Reviewed: 07-04-18

Presented largely through the letters elderly Sesame writes to her sister Eula, Michael Bussa does an excellent job of building a sense of mystery and creepiness throughout the story. Short stories require precision and efficiency in order to make everything work in the limited space the plot allows, and Bussa pulls it off wonderfully. The ending was a big surprise, especially since I thought I knew where it was heading. Deryn Oliver does a great job narrating. She really conveyed Sesame's loneliness and confusion quite well, and was an excellent choice for this work.


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Think Like Musk

  • How Elon Musk Uses First Principles Thinking to Invent the Future (And How You Can Too)
  • By: Derrick House
  • Narrated by: Nate Sjol
  • Length: 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

First рrіnсірlеѕ thіnkіng, whісh іѕ ѕоmеtіmеѕ called rеаѕоnіng frоm fіrѕt principles, іѕ one of thе mоѕt effective ѕtrаtеgіеѕ уоu can еmрlоу fоr breaking down complicated рrоblеmѕ аnd generating оrіgіnаl solutions. It аlѕо might be the single-best аррrоасh tо learn hоw to think fоr yourself. The fіrѕt рrіnсірlеѕ аррrоасh hаѕ bееn uѕеd by mаnу great thinkers, including inventor Jоhаnnеѕ Gutenberg, mіlіtаrу ѕtrаtеgіѕt Jоhn Bоуd, аnd thе аnсіеnt philosopher Aristotle; but nо оnе embodies the philosophy of fіrѕt рrіnсірlеѕ thinking more еffесtіvеlу thаn the entrepreneur Elоn Musk. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Useful guide to being creative.

  • By cosmitron on 06-13-18

Optimize the function, ignore the form

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

Reviewed: 07-01-18

This started out a little shaky, but pulled it together to deliver an enlightening introduction to first principles thinking. House uses a flying cars illustration that really surprised me, and demonstrated the idea of focusing on function rather than form quite effectively. It was so obvious and made complete sense, but wasn't an angle I (and I dare say many others) would have considered.

Nate Sjol does a great job narrating. His straightforward and clear delivery really lends itself to the materiel.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit

  • By: Beatrix Potter
  • Narrated by: Heidi Gregory
  • Length: 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 12

 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a British children's book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter that follows mischievous and disobedient young Peter Rabbit as he is chased about the garden of Mr. McGregor. He escapes and returns home to his mother, who puts him to bed after dosing him with tea.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A sweet classic.

  • By cosmitron on 06-10-18

Warning: Eating Vegetables May Cause Death

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

Reviewed: 07-01-18

I thoroughly enjoyed this production. It had been a long time since I'd heard or read the story of Peter Rabbit, and I'd forgotten how entertaining it was, even for an adult. Heidi Gregory does a excellent job narrating this children's classic.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Lettie's Plight

  • By: Michael Bussa
  • Narrated by: Sallie Beaumont
  • Length: 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

Born in the Victorian era, in the slums of Bethnal Green in the darkest of London, Lettie vowed to leave a miserable life behind. But when she forges a new life, in a new town, she finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, living the very life she had left behind in Bethnal Green. When she finally has enough money, Lettie waits for just the right moment to leave her abusive and controlling husband, Roman, who would do anything to keep her confined. What will Lettie do? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • great

  • By Rebecca Azizov on 06-15-18

The Story of Lettie

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

Reviewed: 07-01-18

I enjoyed this short story set in Victorian England. It had some nice twists, although the motives of one of character's actions toward the end could have used some clarification. I wasn't a big fan of the dialogue which was written in a sort of Cockney/poor Londoner style, although this may be due to the narration. Sallie Beaumont does a decent job overall, I just didn't care for her performance on the dialogue. The way this is written is more focused on the narrator telling you the story of Lettie, and as such the dialogue is kind of secondary, which works well, I think.

Overall a darkly enjoyable short story with some sinister twists.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • The Three Little Kittens

  • By: Eliza Lee Cabot Follen
  • Narrated by: Gregg Rizzo
  • Length: 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12

 Listen to this classic nursery rhyme of the three little kittens. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A wonderful story for any child.

  • By cosmitron on 06-10-18

A quaint classic

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

Reviewed: 07-01-18

I'm not real sure how to rate the performance on this one. Gregg Rizzo does a great job narrating, and if I were rating based solely on that, it would be four stars easy. However, I just don't think Rizzo was the right choice for this particular work. Not because of skill, but because of his tone and pitch, which are better suited for tales and poems not involving little kittens and their mittens. I just couldn't take it seriously when he did the kitten sound effects. It's kind of like if you had James Earl Jones doing the voice of Dory in 'Finding Nemo'. Could he do it? Absolutely. But should he do it? …actually that would be hilariously epic, but you get my point.

That aside, its a classic nursery rhyme, so you can't go wrong there, and in all honesty, whether Rizzo is the right fit for the role or not, it is still well done production.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Jack and the Beanstalk

  • By: Benjamin Tabart
  • Narrated by: Heidi Gregory
  • Length: 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

Jack is a young, poor boy living with his widowed mother and a dairy cow, on a farm cottage. The cow's milk was their only source of income. When the cow stops giving milk, Jack's mother tells him to take her to the market to be sold. On the way, Jack meets a bean dealer who offers magic beans in exchange for the cow, and Jack makes the trade....  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fee Fie Foe Fum

  • By David M. Schrepfer on 05-29-18

B is for Beanstalk (and Buglary)

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

Reviewed: 06-16-18

This is another classic tale narrated excellently by Heidi Gregory. Jack is not exactly a noble character, and is not above begging and thievery. To be fair the giant (ogre in this case) does admit to eating people, so maybe he gets what he deserves. Morals aside its a well-narrated and entertaining story.


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.