LISTENER

Dave

Whittier, CA
  • 128
  • reviews
  • 1,224
  • helpful votes
  • 329
  • ratings
  • Space Opera

  • By: Catherynne M. Valente
  • Narrated by: Heath Miller
  • Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 614
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 560
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 564

A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented - something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding. Once every cycle, the civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix - part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not a lot of story (non-specific SPOILER ALERT)

  • By Erik B. on 05-22-18

Sex, Drugs, and...Wait. What's That Other Thing?

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

Reviewed: 01-01-19

Where's the Rock 'n Roll?

There aren't enough funny SF/F books, which is one of the reason's I was so excited to try the incredibly talented Catherynne M. Valente's Space Opera. The concept sounded golden to me -- like Douglas Adams reporting on an intergalactic EuroVision. And while Valente certainly has a blast with the bunny trail ramblings we've come to love about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the rest of the execution left a lot to be desired.

In this book, the bunny trails appear to mean more to Valente than the characters themselves. As for the rock n' roll? It's mostly absent. There's a lot about the style and the fashion of it, some of the sex and drugs lifestyle. (One great line: the voice that launched a thousand sexual awakenings.) But as far as the music itself? At best, it's muzac playing in the space elevator. Which makes the final performance of our Earth's first intergalactic rock band very anticlimatic. I say all this realizing how difficult it must be to twist an art form like music into the confines of prose. But even the characters seem uninterested by music, unless they're grappling with writer's block.

(I'm also not entirely sure when this book takes place. Sometime in the not-too distant future? But Decibel Jones and Oort Saint Ultraviolet seem to recall David Bowie or Freddie Mercury, while a lot of our contemporary musicians are apparently dead. Andy I was left wondering what decade and music genre were they from. This seems like a little thing, but the more I thought about it, the more confused it made me.)

Heath Miller's narration is fine on a technical level, but for a book that's supposed to be as wonderfully ridiculous as this one, his performance seems restrained in all the wrong places.

I appreciate Valente's effort in trying to write a funny SF/F novel -- the world needs more of those. But this one just couldn't hit the right notes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Christmas Eve, 1914

  • By: Charles Olivier
  • Narrated by: Cameron Daddo, Xander Berkeley, Cody Fern, and others
  • Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,494
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,474
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,429

In 1914, the war which was to have been wrapped up by Christmas had - in reality - only just begun, as all sides entrenched themselves deeper into the Great War. Christmas Eve, 1914 follows one company of British officers as they rotate forward to spend their Christmas on the front lines, a mere 80 yards from the German guns. Upper- and working-class men and boys are thrown together into one trench and struggle to survive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautifully "illustrated"

  • By anonymous on 12-25-14

Why Can't Every Day Be Like Christmas?

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

Reviewed: 12-28-18

There's a good portion hope and humanity in the story of what happened on Christmas Eve 1914. Soldiers on both sides of the war putting down their weapons and coming together to give war a holiday break. For me the most heartbreaking thing about this story is that it's the only time it happened -- World War I only got worse, and lasted for another 4 years. War didn't take another holiday until it was over. And all that hope and humanity seems like it was scattered to the cold, harsh winds of reality.

That said the production of this story -- essentially a short play about the British soldiers in the trenches who are greeted with peace and good will for a night -- was very well done. I didn't recognize the voice actors, but their performances were top notch. And while ultimately I find the story to be a much more bittersweet one than this play suggest, it was a pleasant experience for a mid-winter listen.

  • The Christmas Hirelings

  • By: Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,924
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,343
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,306

Sir John Penlyon is planning to spend Christmas at his estate with his niece and his friend Danby, the closest thing he has to family since disowning his daughter years ago. (She eloped with the parson, who was, of course, penniless.) Danby suggests that at Christmastime the estate needs the presence of small children, and offers to find some - the “hirelings” - despite Sir John’s skepticism. Three children duly arrive, and the youngest, precocious four year-old Moppet, quickly endears herself to Sir John. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A warm and lovely Christmas story

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 12-13-18

A Predictable Yet Charming Christmas Delight

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

Reviewed: 12-28-18

The Christmas Hirelings manages to be somehow new and familiar to me all at the same time. It's kind of like discovering a holiday favorite for the first time. Mary Elizabeth Braddon's story won't necessarily surprise you by defying conventions, but it does such an elegant job running with those conventions, it's a delight to behold. Richard Armitage's narration warms you like a fire on the hearth as the snow is falling outside -- his voices for the characters are marvelous and his reading certainly elevates the storytelling experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

  • By: Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 3 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 849
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 791
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 787

Audible presents a special edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde narrated by Richard Armitage. With Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Richard Armitage tells the story of a conflicted man who seeks a remedy to free the monster inside him from the clutches of his conscience. Following his celebrated performance of David Copperfield, Armitage delivers another powerhouse performance as the narrator of this Gothic tale.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Changed my understanding of processing literature

  • By Brent W on 11-02-17

A Strange Case Indeed

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

Reviewed: 11-26-18

Even if you've never read Jekyll and Hyde before, our culture's absorbed the general story and the twists and chills it provides. So much so, that it's a little frustrating that Stevenson waited about 2/3's of the way through his slim little story to show that Jekyll and Hyde are actually one and the same.

The structure of the story itself is interesting -- Jekyll and Hyde are seen through other's perspectives for more than half the story, and even then we only hear what Jekyll has to say about Hyde. Do we take his testimony as truth? The evil Hyde embarks on is mostly unknown -- a blank canvas for the reader and listener to paint with whatever they see fit. It would be interesting to hear Hyde's thoughts and reflections on the case -- was he as conflicted on some level as Jekyll? Was he more sympathetic than his counterpart allows us to believe? Maybe that lack of balance and the possibilities it holds is one of the enduring powers of the story.

There is no balancing Richard Armitage's performance, however. His narration is the most delightful kind of wickedness and a pure win. I have a hard time imagining revisiting this one with a different reader -- Armitage is that great.

I've read and listened to this story multiple times now and despite my conflicted feelings about the structure, it's certainly a strange case indeed -- one that can get under your skin and keep you asking questions long after the story has ended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Dead Zone

  • By: Stephen King
  • Narrated by: James Franco
  • Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,234
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,878
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,862

Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people's futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancée married another man during his coma, and people clamor for him to solve their problems. When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another Great Listen!

  • By karinzart on 04-29-17

Nothing is Lost...Nothing That Can't Be Found

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

Reviewed: 10-21-18

Everything changes, and nothing does. Written in the late 70s, it's striking to realize how much has changed in the world over the last 40 years, and how the political divide is so startlingly similar. And while talking about Greg Stillson's surprising rise to political power at strange grass roots events, it's hard not to think of angry people wearing red ball caps with "Make America Great Again" printed on them. This story, more a response to Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, may as well have been written in the age of Donald Trump.

Less interested in scaring you than other stories by King, nevertheless, he does what he does best here -- immersing you in the character of Johnny Smith, a man with a psychic ability when he touches people or certain objects. Eventually, Smith and Stillson are hurtling toward each other on a collision course.

James Franco gives the narration an everyman kind of feel which suits the story's protagonist perfectly.

The Dead Zone might be less of a horror story and more of a political thriller, but it's got all the good stuff you hope for from King and is hard to stop listening to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Cruel Prince

  • By: Holly Black
  • Narrated by: Caitlin Kelly
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,972
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,735
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,726

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him - and face the consequences.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Mixed feelings . . .

  • By S. E. on 03-09-18

Screams in Faerie are Like Birdsong

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

Reviewed: 09-29-18

Forget Tinkerbell.

Stories where faeries are portrayed as dangerous and wicked are something of a weakness for me. At one point, our heroine Jude is screaming as faeries are dragging her and her sister into the forest for dark purposes, and she reflects that "screams in Faerie are like birdsong." That image stopped me cold as I considered a dark forest full of screaming. And Holly Black does that kind of thing throughout the novel, filling it with twists, surprises, and terror.

This one reads reads as if Veronica Mars was kidnapped from Neptune and trapped playing a Game of Thrones. Jude and her siblings are brutally stolen from their parents by a faerie prince and raised in his house across the border of Faerie. Always an outsider, Jude is a human living among immortals -- many who see her as a lesser creature. And she's determined to show them she's just as dangerous as they are, while maybe helping out some of the captive humans trapped in Faerie.

Holly Black is on a hot streak lately. Between this, The Darkest Part of the Forest, and the Coldest Girl in Coldtown -- I just can't get enough, Not only does she have a knack for writing deliciously treacherous fae, she writes teenagers with the perfect amount of angst, honing in on how it feels to be at that point in life where you're not yet an adult, but definitely not a child.

Caitlyn Kelly's narration matches Black's prose perfectly -- tasting as delicious as the forbidden apples immortals use to trap their prey.

Black is the queen of the dangerous fae who live just across our border of reality but so love crossing over to steal us for a kiss, a bite, a drink. This one is a treat indeed, and I can't wait to hear what she has in store for us next.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Handmaid's Tale

  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Claire Danes
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31,345
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,499
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,492

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Top Pick for 2012

  • By Em on 11-30-12

Some Books Get Scarier As Time Marches On

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

Reviewed: 07-08-18

I came into this book a newbie -- with very little preconceptions other than it was a classic dystopian story. I haven't seen the recent TV series. But with everything going on in the world, I thought it finally time to dive into this book.

And it's terrifying story to behold. It's hard to imagine how a book from the 1980s can project into our current cultural and political landscape and seem to hit so accurately. The characters and themes are familiar and often brutal. It's full of haunting imagery we hope will not play out in our own future. Men, seemingly good men, who stand by silent and do nothing while evil takes over.

Claire Danes gives a phenomenal, nuanced performance of a woman filled with longing and desire. Not only for a world better than the hell she's living, but also a woman who hungers for simpler things, like a man's touch without the danger that now poses.

The Handmaid's Tale continues to be a very timely and human novel, suggesting the dangers lurking around the corner.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Last Shot

  • Star Wars
  • By: Daniel José Older
  • Narrated by: Marc Thompson, Daniel José Older, January LaVoy
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,213
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,071
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,068

It's one of the galaxy's most dangerous secrets: a mysterious transmitter with unknown power and a reward for its discovery that most could only dream of claiming. But those who fly the Millennium Falcon throughout its infamous history aren't your average scoundrels. Not once, but twice, the crew of the Falcon tries to claim the elusive prize - first, Lando Calrissian and the droid L3-37 at the dawn of an ambitious career, and later, a young and hungry Han Solo with the help of his copilot, Chewbacca.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • It's a letdown and boring

  • By Amazon Customer on 04-19-18

Han Solo? He Would've Disappointed You

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

Reviewed: 07-08-18

I haven't kept up with all the Star Wars books either in the old EU or this one, but when I saw Daniel Jose Older was writing a Han and Lando book, I knew I had to check it out. After listening to it, I'd say it's probably one of my favorite Star Wars novels to date -- right up there with James S.A. Corey's Honor Among Thieves and the original Zahn trilogy. (And it reminds me that I have some holes to fill.)

The conceit of the story is that a relic from Han and Lando's past resurfaces with the potential to turn the galaxy's droids into murderbots. That bit from the Force Awakens where Kylo Ren tells Rey about what a disappointment Han was as a father? In this story, we see Han struggling to learn how raise young Ben, be a stable husband for Leia, and generally just settle down. He's failing on pretty much all fronts and he misses being able to do things he was actually good at. At the same time, Lando is trying to figure out if he's a scoundrel or a hero and whether or not he has the ability to stay in a committed relationship. Rest assured: this book is just as much about Lando as it is Han.

You can tell from pretty early on that Daniel Jose Older didn't take writing a Star Wars book lightly -- he was aiming to write a great novel about aging heroes reconciling with their failures of the past and present. There's a lot to be said about the current status and servitude of droids. Additionally, he has a blast playing with some of the conventions of Star Wars...like an ewok slicer and a certain gungan who will leaving you rolling as he blasts your preconceptions of his species. The new pilot that Han and Lando pair up with who reminds them of their younger selves is one of my favorite new characters in the SW EU.

I was a little surprised to see Marc Thompson splitting narrator duties with Daniel Jose Older and January Lavoy. Thompson does the heavy lifting, and while his pacing and intonation still seem forced to me at times, his voices for the characters are amazing -- especially some of the new characters to this story. Daniel Jose Older does the Han Solo flashbacks and it is a delight to hear him narrator hit the rhythm of his own prose. I thought Lavoy was an odd choice at first to do the Lando segments, but in the end she did phenomenal voicing both Lando and Ellthree.

For Star Wars fans -- especially Han and Lando fans -- this is a must. It's fun-filled adventure about two has-beens trying to right their past and present in a galaxy far, far away.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • So You Want to Start a Brewery?

  • The Lagunitas Story
  • By: Tony Magee
  • Narrated by: Brett Barry
  • Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 829
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 761
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 762

So You Want to Start a Brewery? is the first-person account of Tony Magee's gut-wrenching challenges and heart-warming successes in founding Lagunitas Brewing Company. In just 20 years, the company has grown from a seat-of-the-pants, one-man operation to be the fifth largest--and the fastest growing--craft brewer in the United States.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I did not even like beer before I read this book!

  • By D. Bessire on 09-18-15

I Love Lagunitas...But I Digress

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

Reviewed: 05-28-18

By the time I got around to listening to this one, Lagunitas had been bought out by Heineken. Hopefully, the beer continues to taste as good as it has in the past, but it's fair to say the sale left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths as many complained one of great craft breweries selling out.

This book, written before the Heineken deal, is not a biography, but a business memoir, stresses author and Lagunitas founder Tony Magee. Mainly, it's a lot of stories about the breweries early days -- how it got founded, how it moved from one location to another to another, and some of the obstacles it came up against. Magee often apologizes for his digressions, but in the end that's what this book feels like -- one digression after another with little to hold it together. I can't imagine it appealing to people who aren't diehard craft-brewing or Lagunitas fans.

The audiobook isn't helped much by Brett Barry's narration. Technically, there's nothing wrong with Barry and I'd be happy to hear him read other books. But here, his narration mixed with Magee's words make the author sound like someone you would not want to hang out at a bar and have a few drinks with.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Farewell My Lovely

  • By: Raymond Chandler
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,562
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,437
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,435

Eight years ago Moose Malloy and cute little redhead Velma were getting married - until someone framed Malloy for armed robbery. Now his stretch is up and he wants Velma back. PI Philip Marlow meets Malloy one hot day in Hollywood and, out of the generosity of his jaded heart, agrees to help him. Dragged from one smoky bar to another, Marlowe's search for Velma turns up plenty of dangerous gangsters with a nasty habit of shooting first and talking later.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Fond Farewell

  • By Ian C Robertson on 10-21-15

Smooth Shiny Girls, Hardboiled and Loaded with Sin

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

Reviewed: 05-28-18

It's hard to go wrong with Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe. This one is enjoyable from beginning to end no thanks to Marlowe's pathos and dull but glistening moral compass, and the cast of characters Chandler brings out here. A fortune teller, a gangster operating off the shores of L.A., the daughter of a deceased chief of police, jewel thieves. Farewell My Lovely has its fair share of problems. Mainly: there's a lot more casual racism than I remember in some of the other Marlowe books -- mainly aimed at Native Americans and African Americans. It made me wince a few times.

Ray Porter's narration is generally excellent -- he has a knack for Marlowe, the good and bad cops, and the other heavies. I'm not big on the way his female characters sound, which comes off as a little forced. I can forgive it for how good the rest of his performance is, though.

As much as Marlowe, the real star for me will always be Chandler's smooth and shiny prose, hardboiled and loaded with sin. Roll the windows down as you drive up the L.A. coastline of noir with the sea breeze hitting you in the face. It's gonna be quite a ride.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful