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Julie W. Capell

Valparaiso, Chile
  • 238
  • reviews
  • 1,618
  • helpful votes
  • 280
  • ratings
  • 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 870
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 784
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 783

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
  • Awful! And I don't mean the book . . .

  • By DJW on 01-03-18

Incredible tale of survival

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

Reviewed: 06-24-18

Really drove home the difficulties of life in North Korea for the average person. The unmitigated pain, hunger and suffering of the author and his family were so terrible I thought over and over again, how could they have survived? I have read other similar books about North Korea but the sheer poverty is still shocking. This was one of the most depressing books I have ever read, but I am glad I read it, if only to remind myself--again--of the absolute folly of trying to negotiate with the current leadership there. It is sickening to think how the entire world has abandoned millions of people to live in the worst conditions imaginable for so many decades.

  • At the Mountains of Madness [Blackstone Edition]

  • By: H. P. Lovecraft
  • Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
  • Length: 4 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,481
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,237
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,232

This Lovecraft classic is a must-have for every fan of classic terror. When a geologist leads an expedition to the Antarctic plateau, his aim is to find rock and plant specimens from deep within the continent. The barren landscape offers no evidence of any life form - until they stumble upon the ruins of a lost civilization. Strange fossils of creatures unknown to man lead the team deeper, where they find carved stones dating back millions of years. But it is their discovery of the terrifying city of the Old Ones that leads them to an encounter with an untold menace.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • First Lovecraft

  • By Brian on 02-03-14

Terrific narration of a fantastic tale

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

Reviewed: 06-20-18

There's a reason this is a classic. The reader is immediately immersed in the scientific mind of the main character, who describes with wonderful detail his party's preparation for an Antarctic expedition. One senses the excitement of men traveling to the last unexplored place on Earth and cannot help but be caught up in their anticipation and slight unease. What will we find? Will we become famous? Will we survive the ice and wind? Of course, these natural enemies become secondary to the main event, something sinister lurking under the frozen wastes . . . cue the menacing music!

Having read other books by real explorers of the same time period, I was struck at the accuracy of Lovecraft's descriptions of the expedition, the scientists' zeal for discovery and their hypotheses regarding the anomalous things they found.

If you like books like "The Lost City of Z" and "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" you should definitely read this gem.

[I listened to this as an audiobook read by the late, great Edward Herrmann. Simply amazing, highly recommended.]

  • The Successful Author Mindset

  • A Handbook for Surviving the Writer's Journey
  • By: Joanna Penn
  • Narrated by: Caroline Holroyd
  • Length: 2 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 92

Being a writer is not just about typing. It's also about surviving the rollercoaster of the creative journey. Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer's block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more. When you're going through these things, it can feel like you're alone. But actually, they are part of the creative process, and every author goes through them too.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Any genre, any writing goal, be successful!

  • By Rhianna Walker on 06-27-17

Great, short, upbeat

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

Reviewed: 06-16-18

I really enjoyed this short, upbeat book on how to keep going on your author journey even when the going gets tough. Great audiobook, loved the reader.

  • Dark Matter

  • A Novel
  • By: Blake Crouch
  • Narrated by: Jon Lindstrom
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,309
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,059
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,058

"Are you happy with your life?" Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason's never met smiles down at him and says, "Welcome back, my friend."

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Schrödinger's box gets opened. Meh steps out.

  • By Darwin8u on 09-19-16

if Michio Kaku rewrote North by Northwest

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

Reviewed: 06-16-18

I've always thought Cary Grant's everyman caught up in a case of mistaken identity, chased by bad guys and afraid he might never get his "normal" life back again, is one of the great stories of our time.

Here, the everyman is a physicist rather than a Madison Avenue adman and instead of being chased across the plains of the Middle West, our hero is being chased across the multiverse. Add in a very compelling love story and thrill-a-minute storytelling and you have a highly enjoyable book. I think it would make a great movie!

If you liked this book, you should definitely check out the similar but much funnier "Where the Hell is Tesla?" by Rob Dirks.

[I listened to this as an audiobook performed by Jon Lindstrom. Very good job, except that he made the Chicagoans in the story sound like they were from the Bronx.]

  • Consider Phlebas

  • By: Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 16 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,354
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,113
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,125

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it....

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Visionary but half-cooked intro to Culture 'verse

  • By Ryan on 07-20-13

Consider reading something else

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

Reviewed: 06-09-18

This book has been on my "to-read" list for a very long time, mostly because it appears on lots of lists of the best scifi. I was definitely underwhelmed. It had neither of the hallmarks of what I look for in a good scifi novel, namely Big Ideas and great worldbuilding. In 1987, when the book was published, I guess it was okay to focus on action alone but now readers demand a bit more, even from their space opera. Thank goodness for the dash of humor provided by the drone Unaha-Closp.

I listened to this as an audio book performed by Peter Kenny. The narration was well-done, with Kenny giving distinct voices and accents to help distinguish the many characters. But the many strange names were difficult to understand and I kind of wish I'd read the book rather than listened.

  • The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

  • The Road to Nowhere, Book 1
  • By: Meg Elison
  • Narrated by: Angela Dawe
  • Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,781
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,649
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,655

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead. In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth's population - killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant - the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power - and the strong who possess it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • "Equals" = "Annoying"

  • By Lulu on 12-26-16

As good as "Handmaid's Tale"

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

Reviewed: 02-15-18

Haven't read a post-apocalyptic novel this good since "A Handmaid's Tale." The story does not dwell on all the minute details of how exactly one would manage to find enough food, fuel, etc to continue living once 99% of the human race died, but rather focuses on one woman's quest to remain true to her own ideals, to her sense of self, and remain free.

The protagonist travels a great swath of the American West without seeming to have a destination in mind, other than to find a place where she will not be forced to submit to abusive authority--masculine or feminine. She uses her unique talents as a midwife to heal and protect other women she encounters on her journey. She meets other people who have wildly different priorities and belief systems than hers; their points of view providing alternative visions of how the post-apocalyptic world might evolve socially and culturally.

Large chunks of the novel are told from the midwife's point-of-view, as excerpts from her journal.
But at times the author moves into god mode, telling the reader what is happening in the wider world. In one particularly affecting passage, the fates of Americans who were abroad when the plague hit is hinted at. From Peace Corps kids in Africa to military units posted in Afghanistan to tourists in the Caribbean, the vision of people who survived only to realize they would never be able to get home again is described in spare, haunting prose.

Not an easy read, but satisfying as only the best, most honest fiction can be, when it challenges the reader to think about what makes us human, what matters most in life, and what it means to never give up hope.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Family Trade

  • By: Charles Stross
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 460
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 414
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 413

Miriam Beckstein is happy in her life as a successful reporter. When she gets iron-clad evidence of a money-laundering scheme, Miriam thinks she's found the story of the year. But when she takes it to her editor, she's fired on the spot and gets a death threat from the criminals she's uncovered. Before the day is over, she's received a locket left by the mother she never knew - the mother who was murdered when she was an infant. The knotwork pattern within has a hypnotic effect on her.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 6 books - intriguing series

  • By Norman on 06-13-16

Stross' dry humor nowhere to be seen

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

Reviewed: 02-04-18

Got about 2/3 done but could not finish this. Boring worldbuilding, blah protagonist, predictable plot, cardboard characters, terrible dialog. On top of all that, the audiobook reader, Kate Reading, sounded about as exciting as a robot. Only reason I got as far as I did is that I have enjoyed other books by Charles Stross, but his usual dry sense of humor was nowhere to be found here. I finally realized I didn't care what happened to any of the characters, and downloaded my next read.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Lost City of Z

  • A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
  • By: David Grann
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,730
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,018
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,031

A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon. After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, acclaimed New Yorker writer David Grann set out to find out what happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Yarn - And It's True!!!

  • By Old Hippy on 04-04-09

A must-read for anyone interested in South America

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

Reviewed: 02-01-18

If you could sum up The Lost City of Z in three words, what would they be?

Clash of cultures

What other book might you compare The Lost City of Z to and why?

If you liked this, you should also read "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" and "Road Fever." The former is very similar to "The Lost City of Z" in that it tells the tale of a present-day journalist trying to follow in the footsteps of a Western explorer (read: white male) of the early part of the 1900s, but in Peru instead of Brazil. The second book is a really funny and incredibly well-written first person account of some US adventurers (also white males) who, in the 1980s, drove from Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay in just 23 days.

Which scene was your favorite?

So many memorable moments involving horrible maggot infestations, ticks, starvation, etc but can't really call those "favorites." I really loved the final chapter.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was hard to put down, I managed to finish it in just a couple of days.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Hum If You Don't Know the Words

  • By: Bianca Marais
  • Narrated by: Katharine McEwan, Bahni Turpin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 108
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a 10-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred...until the Soweto Uprising.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Two narrators make for a great listen

  • By Julie W. Capell on 01-29-18

Two narrators make for a great listen

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

Reviewed: 01-29-18

Great audiobook, using two different narrators to represent the two main characters. Being able to hear the story in the alternating voices of the Black African mother, Beauty, who is searching for her daughter, and that of the White African girl, Robin, who has lost her family, made this an extra-special experience. The ending was perfect. I look forward to the next book written by Bianca Marais.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Artemis

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: Rosario Dawson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52,364
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48,857
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 48,721

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A ferrari with no motor

  • By will on 11-18-17

MacGuyver on the moon with welding!

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

Reviewed: 01-07-18

Near-future scifi that takes place on a lunar colony. I really liked the way Weir describes in detail many aspects of how such a colony might operate. I also liked the societal structure he postulates, in which different Earth countries have ended up in control of different aspects of colony operations. It is refreshing to see diversity treated in a matter-of-fact way, with people of many different ancestries (Saudis, Kenyan, Japanese, Brazilian) interacting and taking the roles of both hero and villain. Also have to give a shout-out to the primary role played by welding in this story; welding is a really interesting and exacting profession that doesn't get the respect it deserves!

My main problem with the book was that I found it difficult to root for the main character. She was making so many bad decisions, and hurting so many people along the way, and I didn't understand why she was motivated to do those things (I mean her deep down motivation, not her immediate "I need money" explanation). Like her literary predecessor, Mark Watney, she is a super-smart, smart aleck who is able to MacGyver herself out of any situation. Unlike Mark, the dilemnas she is called upon to solve are entirely of her own making, resulting in zero sympathy from me.

[I listened to the audio version of this book performed by Rosario Dawson. She did an AMAZING job with all the accents, and giving voice to the wisecracking heroine.]

2 of 6 people found this review helpful