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J. OBrennan

Denver, Colorado USA
  • 41
  • reviews
  • 96
  • helpful votes
  • 127
  • ratings
  • The City of Brass

  • A Novel
  • By: S. A. Chakraborty
  • Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
  • Length: 19 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,279
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,189
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,184

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly she has power; on the streets of 18th-century Cairo, she's a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by - palm readings, zars, healings - are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills, a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive. But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she's forced to question all she believes.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator ruined the charaters for me

  • By Jacquelyn S. De Phillips on 01-01-18

Great characters, exciting story

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

Reviewed: 01-28-19

The City of Brass is an easy book to recommend! The characters are likable (or appropriately dis-likable) but plausibly imperfect. The story is quick paced and frequently exciting. And the descriptions are just enough to create rich,exotic landscapes in your head. I'm actually halfway through the second in the trilogy (The Kingdom of Copper) as I write this, and I'm already anxious for S. A. Chakraborty to come out with the third!

Soneela Nakani does a good job of voicing the characters - though it seems like "slightly surprised" is her default tone. Still - she creates a good distinction between male and female voices, and her overall narration is pleasant to listen to.

I think this is a great book for fans of the genre, or people just looking for a little adventure. Definitely worth a credit.

  • Gnomon

  • By: Nick Harkaway
  • Narrated by: Ben Onwukwe
  • Length: 29 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

In the world of Gnomon, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of "transparency". Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens' thoughts and memories - all in the name of providing the safest society in history. When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn't make mistakes, but something isn't right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter's death. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent, challenging, not a “beach read”

  • By Mark Hancock on 12-09-18

Intense and atmospheric

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

Reviewed: 01-28-19

Not exactly a light, quick read, but Nick Harkaway doesn't really write that way to begin with. Gnomon is intense. I found myself having to go back and re-listen to passages that played while I was distracted or just not fully focused. Each chapter and each character bleeds into and builds onto someone or something else, and not always in the same direction. I really loved the mood it created and the feeling of something important hidden just beneath the surface.

I have to admit that I was a little put off by Ben Onwukwe's narration at first. It seemed a little dramatic and heavy-handed. But he did a brilliant job of creating distinctions between the characters and plausible female voices. As I got deeper into the story I appreciated his narration more and more. By the end I couldn't imagine hearing the story from anyone else.

If you're up for something with a little bit of heft and a palpable atmosphere, I definitely recommend Gnomon. Well worth the time and credit.

  • Artemis

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: Rosario Dawson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62,096
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57,957
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 57,812

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

Great narration, otherwise meh

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

Reviewed: 01-18-19

Artemis was...meh. Several of the characters were mostly enjoyable and the story had a fair amount of interesting moments - but the endless repetitions (Jazz is SO smart, low gravity is SO cool, etc) began to bleed away my enjoyment within the first few chapters. As I got further into the story it became harder and harder to believe in the character of Jazz. Although she was expertly voiced by Rosario Dawson, her back story and behavior were alternately annoying and implausible. In the end I can't say it was bad - I did finish it, after all - but I won't be recommending it to friends. If you love Andy Weir, and you're stuck on a train or international flight for 9 hours with absolutely nothing else to listen to, it might be worth a credit.

  • Leviathan Wakes

  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 20 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,463
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,829
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,816

The first book in the landmark Expanse series, now a major television series from Syfy! Leviathan Wakes is James S. A. Corey's first novel in the epic New York Times best-selling series The Expanse, a modern masterwork of science fiction in which humanity has colonized the solar system.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Addictive start and then a slump in the middle

  • By Elley Murray on 09-28-17

Start reading this series right now!

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

Reviewed: 12-26-18

This, my friends, is SUCH a good series! James S.A. Corey brings together some of the best characters I've read/listened to in the genre, and he sets them in motion with story lines that are genuinely interesting and more than just a little bit "please please please let this workout well". I'm moments away from ending the 4th book and I just purchased/pre-ordered all of the other books in the series. I recommend reading the novellas (the .5 additions) in sequence as you go - they provide depth to some characters and back-stories for others.

I have to say - it took me longer than I usual to get into the narration. Jefferson Mays has a slow and sometimes overly dramatic cadence, and initially it felt unnecessary and distracting. But he does such a genuinely great job giving voice and individuality to each character that I can't imagine hearing them from anyone else. Now, in my mind, he's as much a part of The Expanse series as James Holden, and I enjoy listening to him very much.

Do yourself a favor and start reading/listening to Leviathan Wakes now - you won't regret it.

  • Forging Hephaestus

  • Villains' Code Series, Book 1
  • By: Drew Hayes
  • Narrated by: Amy Landon
  • Length: 26 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,975
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,662
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,656

Gifted with meta-human powers, Tori Rivas kept away from the limelight, preferring to work as a thief in the shadows. But when she's captured trying to rob a vault that belongs to a secret guild of villains, she's offered a hard choice: prove she has what it takes to join them or be eliminated. Apprenticed to one of the world's most powerful (and supposedly dead) villains, she is thrust into a strange world where the lines that divide superheroes and criminals are more complex than they seem.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Nice Surprise with some Really Fun Characters

  • By Small Mountain on 09-29-17

Entertaining - 26 hrs few by

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

I love super heroes, but I've got to say that it was refreshing ato read a story from the villain's perspective! Drew Hayes does a good job telling stories (I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Second Hand Curses) - his characters are well developed, the dialogue is fun, and the story arch holds your attention. I didn't feel bogged down by the length of the book at all - on the contrary, it went by pretty quickly, and I found myself ready for Book 2...which, sadly, isn't yet available. Amy Landon's narration is a good fit. I'd say Forging Hephaestus won't win any prestigious literary prizes, but it was definitely entertaining, and well worth a credit.

  • The House of Broken Angels

  • By: Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Narrated by: Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 813
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 758
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 755

In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel de La Cruz, affectionately called Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly 100, dies herself, leading to a farewell doubleheader in a single weekend. Among the guests is Big Angel's half-brother, known as Little Angel, who must reckon with the truth that although he shares a father with his siblings, he has not, as a half gringo, shared a life. Across two bittersweet days in their San Diego neighborhood, the revelers mingle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not death, and Not borders

  • By Clodhopper on 05-01-18

Even better in retrospect

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

I'm always a little worried about audio books that are narrated by the author...but Luis Alberto Urrea did a truly lovely job. This is good old-fashioned story telling, not unlike Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Urrea's treatment of the descriptions and dialogue were charming. I'd say you need to get a few chapters in before you make any decisions about the book - he's setting a stage and things might not turn out to be what they look like at first. By the end you'll have a full, rich appreciation for the family, their patriarch, and whole House of Broken Angels. I definitely recommend.

  • Lovecraft Country

  • A Novel
  • By: Matt Ruff
  • Narrated by: Kevin Kenerly
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,772
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,648
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,648

Critically acclaimed cult novelist Matt Ruff makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An effective mix of influences

  • By Jim N on 04-10-16

Not just for lovers of Lovecraft

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

I had this book in my Wish List forever. It was highly recommended to me by one of my favorite people (who has similar reading taste to mine) and the summary seemed interesting. I put it off for such a long time because I just wasn't sure I needed another book full of Lovecraft references. But surprise! I guess I did! Excellent story, fabulous characters, and top notch narration (though Kenerly's voice had to grow on me). I feel safe in saying you'll enjoy this if you're a Lovecraft groupie, and if you aren't, you won't be missing anything by not having read his works. Lovecraft Country "reads" like a series of interrelated short stories, all building on each other and adding to the world. It was a thoroughly enjoyable book - moody and atmospheric with a good amount of humor. Well worth a credit and 12 hours of your life.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Listener

  • By: Robert R. McCammon
  • Narrated by: Marc Vietor
  • Length: 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,859
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,730
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,726

It's 1934. Businesses went under by the hundreds, debt and foreclosures boomed, and breadlines grew in many American cities. In the midst of this misery, some folks explored unscrupulous ways to make money. Angel-faced John Partlow and carnival huckster Ginger LaFrance are among the worst of this lot. Joining together they leave their small-time confidence scams behind to attempt an elaborate kidnapping-for-ransom scheme in New Orleans.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Southern Fried Horror Done Right

  • By Ila in Maine on 03-05-18

Mystery, magic and history - solidly okay

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

I love Southern Gothic, and I keep finding myself drawn to Robert R. McCammon, despite the fact that I'm always left wanting a little something more or different from him. The Listener is interesting, for sure, and McCammon's writing style does a great job of painting the time and settings in your mind. At first I struggled with Marc Vietor's narration - but it grew on me quickly, and ultimately I felt his voice and cadence were perfect for the story. The characters were just so/so though...like I never really accepted them as real people doing real things. And the ending felt a little flat. I do enjoy McCammon's special blend of "otherworldly-ness" and Americana - and there's plenty of that here. I'd say this is worth a credit if you want a moody bit of southern atmosphere and you aren't too hung up on crisp details or relevance. Definitely worth it if you can catch this on sale.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection

  • By: Alexander C. Kane
  • Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,914
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,703
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,696

Andrea Vernon always thought she would spend her life living in Paris writing thought-provoking historical novels all day and sipping wine on the Seine all night. But the reality is she's drowning in debt, has no prospects, and is forced to move back to Queens, where her parents remind her daily that they are very interested in grandchildren. Then, one morning, she is kidnapped, interviewed, and hired as an administrative assistant by the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection. Superheroes for hire, using their powers for good. What could possibly go wrong?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Normal Life in an Abnormal World

  • By Arthur D. Rich on 08-26-17

Fun, light and fast story with excellent narration

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

Fun and funny book with absolutely no dark shadows or sharp edges - a good "read" if you just want some nice escapism that doesn't tax your mind. Bahni Turpin is brilliant in her narration, as always, and her voice seemed particularly well suited for the tone and cadence of the story. The only thing holding me back from really loving the book was that it felt like it was trying too hard to be funny and irreverent. Some good scenes and lines were kind of trampled on in the rush to be extremely witty. Having said that - I did enjoy it and I'll definitely give the sequel a shot when Alexander C. Kane is finished with it.

  • Vita Nostra

  • A Novel
  • By: Sergey Dyachenko, Marina Dyachenko, Julia Meitov Hersey - translator
  • Narrated by: Jessica Ball
  • Length: 18 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 63

Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange golden coin. As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dark but beautiful

  • By J. OBrennan on 11-19-18

Dark but beautiful

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

I think it's inevitable that people will compare this to Harry Potter or Lexicon - but I argue that the similarities are entirely superficial. Vita Nostra is an original take on an intriguing (if not entirely unique) theme, and the writing is absolutely beautiful. The attention to detail is just exactly enough to paint a crisp picture of each scene without short-changing your imagination. The characters are all so good, ranging from sympathetic to frightening. The atmosphere is pretty dark, for sure, but it's inviting and threatening in equal measures. I felt this story in my head and in my bones, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I hope Julia Meitov Hersey is already working on translating the Dyachenko's other works, because I'm definitely ready for more!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful