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betsy

Sherman Oaks, CA, United States
  • 21
  • reviews
  • 177
  • helpful votes
  • 236
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  • Missee Lee

  • Swallows and Amazons Series
  • By: Arthur Ransome
  • Narrated by: Alison Larkin
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

The original cast of the famed Swallows and Amazons series is sailing under the stars and the command of Captain Flint in the South China Sea when Gibbet, their pet monkey, grabs the captain's cigar and drops it in the fuel tank. In minutes, the ship is ablaze (and doomed), and our seven luckless protagonists are adrift in two small boats. They make their way to land, only to find themselves the captives of one of the last remaining pirates operating off the China Coast.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Series

  • By HT on 11-04-18

This could be more offensive and boring

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

Reviewed: 07-02-17

I have read the rest of the series as text, and find I far prefer it to this narrator. This is not the best story. They're away from the boats and have limited agency for much of the book, so it's a different type of adventure: an exoticized account of cooling their heels in China and doing Latin lessons. Sounds fun?

Larkin is shouty, especially for Captain Flint. She regularly misplaces the emphasis or tone of a sentence, and there were some whoppers of mispronunciation. (Bimeby is a dialect variant of "by and by" and pronounced accordingly. Look it up before you say an unknown word 50 times?)

The Chinese characters are written with stereotypical pidgin or exaggerated accents including consistent difficulty pronouncing R, even the Cambridge educated one. The narrator's performance of these is a non-stop embarrassment.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

  • Bobiverse, Book 1
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62,637
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 58,779
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58,668

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ignore the Publisher's Summary! This is Amazing!

  • By PW on 04-12-17

might as well be reading technical documentation

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

Reviewed: 06-03-17

What's the difference between a novel and a meaningless narration of fictional events? Bob doesn't jell. There's no tension. I have almost no sympathy for the Bobs because it's simply one guy's fantasy of possible heroic results of the three things he just did-two conference panels and signing up for cryonic preservation.

One software guy becomes expert in everything needed to colonize the universe. No hurdle appears that isn't overcome with ease. No area of mankind's knowledge seems to be difficult. There are no qualms, terrors, or moral questions, just self assurance and vindication. I fell asleep repeatedly.

The narrator is good, lively in dialogue but matter of fact for most narrative sections.

  • The Serpent of Venice

  • A Novel
  • By: Christopher Moore
  • Narrated by: Euan Morton
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,385
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,167
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,165

Venice, a really long time ago: Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from Britain who also happens to be a favorite of the Doge: The rascal-Fool Pocket. This trio of cunning plotters have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising a spirited evening. Their invitation is, of course, bogus. These scoundrels have something far less amusing planned for the man who has consistently foiled their quest for power and wealth. But this Fool is no fool.…

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shakespear, E.A. Poe, and Pocket the Fool

  • By Sires on 05-11-14

much rewinding, Unlistenable narration

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

Reviewed: 12-11-16

Why?!
I do not choose audio books so that I can sit very still and give them 200% focus to catch every word. Euan Morton throws in so much unnecessary and misplaced expression and accent it makes it hard to grasp the words, let alone their meaning.

Moore is not subtle, but in audio and when working with Shakespearean source material, a narrator of greater subtlety would be far better.

Morton's funny voices don't even serve the author's humor, they distract from it. No doubt the man has vocal skills, but he deploys them senselessly here.

Once resigned to the narration, it's the Fool and his retinue wandering into and changing a mash-up of Othello and Merchant of Venice. There's also a monster.

The first Fool book, Fool, was superior. Lear's just better material and had interesting people besides the lead. Shylock remains Shylock, Othello a caricature, Iago a Scottish obsessive, and the women have very little going on except that Nerissa is randy. The Fool wanders through their world affecting events but not people, add unaffected himself. The monster remains mysterious.

  • Whistling Past the Graveyard

  • By: Susan Crandall
  • Narrated by: Amy Rubinate
  • Length: 11 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,890
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,609
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,598

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old spitfire Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother's Mississippi home. Starla hasn't seen her momma since she was three - that's when Lulu left for Nashville to become a famous singer. If she can get to Nashville and find her momma, then all that she promised will come true: Lulu will be a star. Daddy will come to live in Nashville, too. And her family will be whole and perfect.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Feisty red-headed little girl takes on the south

  • By Laurette on 07-16-14

Exhausting Listen, unable to finish

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

Reviewed: 09-01-16

I don't know how people endured Rubinate's version of a southern child's voice and the incredible danger for eleven hours. I barely made it halfway. A runaway child teams up with a black nanny in the grip of a life crisis to make terrible decisions rambling across the 1960s south. They're putting each other in very real danger, and must be driving the girl's family crazy with her increasing absence.

Starla's voice is breathy and emphatic. The accent is a little too intrusive and the intensity level too high. It only adds to the stress created by the innocents-in-danger story.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse

  • By: A. L. Kennedy
  • Narrated by: Clare Corbett
  • Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 25

An original novel by A.L. Kennedy featuring the Fourth Doctor, as played by Tom Baker in the BBC TV series. Something distinctly odd is going on in Arbroath. It could be to do with golfers being dragged down into the bunkers at the Fetch Brothers' Golf Spa Hotel, never to be seen again.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great doctor story!

  • By Amazon Customer on 11-30-16

Facile psychodrama, too long

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

Reviewed: 10-05-15

What could A. L. Kennedy have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The Drosten's Curse needed a better plot and to be less long.The Doctor has Tom Baker's insouciance as well as his wardrobe and physical tics, but he's not pure Fourth Doctor. There are some new, possibly situational, powers, and a good bit of the lonely-god-in-a-goddess-box, think Matt Smith. The new companions are not completely unlike Amy and Rory Pond. Pleasant, inexplicably in love, a clever lass and a determined lad, she following the Doctor, he following her.The monster's too powerful, and the threats too big to be believable for the Who universe. There's nothing at stake, the resolution is telegraphed early on, and then the novel is dragged out by introducing setbacks, new opponents, and constraining the overpowered Doctor so he has to coach his companions through some things instead of doing them himself. Which is awkward as he does so very literally and telepathically, stripping these companions of most of the dignity and responsibility of thinking for themselves and making tough decisions that give weight to most companions.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Clare Corbett?

Clare Corbett's great, a pleasant voice, humorous, but dry. She only falls short of the best Who narrators in that she doesn't capture the Doctor's distinct cadences at all. I was regularly distracted thinking how Tom Baker would have delivered a line.The performance is marred by the choice to add background noise in many sections, sometimes the cloister bell and sometimes just weird shrieky or clangy atmospheric noise.

  • Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

  • By: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 8 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 811
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 690
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 703

At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering "the cause of generation and life" and "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter", Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts. However, upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great reading

  • By Tad Davis on 09-03-08

disastrous

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

Reviewed: 09-23-15

Simon Vance is popular, I think, but he's always rubbed me the wrong way. Narrating a stuffy, melodramatic gothic novel brings out the traits of his that I have trouble with. He really doubles down on sounding like a pompous 19th c Euro aristocrat, with no humanizing or naturalizing of the language.

The novel is not good. There are so many words and so little happening. Frankenstein made sense as a young man, but grown, he just runs around Europe alternately fleeing, chasing, and trying to forget his monster, while having regular nervous breakdowns. There are a number of deaths and a monster, but there's not much horror or suspense as far as I've read.

I'm giving up at 80%, having read most of that at 2x, looking fruitlessly for anything of interest in this stinker.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Accidental Saints

  • Finding God in All the Wrong People
  • By: Nadia Bolz-Weber
  • Narrated by: Nadia Bolz-Weber
  • Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 686
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 614
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 617

In Accidental Saints, New York Times best-selling au­thor Nadia Bolz-Weber invites readers into a surprising encounter with what she calls "a religious but not-so-spiritual life." Tattooed, angry and profane, this former standup comic turned pastor stubbornly, sometimes hilariously, resists the God she feels called to serve. But God keeps showing up in the least likely of people - a church-loving agnostic, a drag queen, a felonious Bishop and a gun-toting member of the NRA.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Irreverent Humor/ Ordinary Grace

  • By Joey Armstrong on 09-10-15

"Jesus is running my (butt) down"

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

Reviewed: 09-22-15

"Confessional Style" is the phrase I should have noticed in the blurb.

This book is too much about the author for me. Everything is about how God affects her, her faith journey, and to some extent people around her, but it's so centered on her. I expected something more outreachy or more universal, I guess. Bolz-Weber sees grace in how a congregant was really moved by finding her church before he died, despite the fact that she avoided him and was a bit of a jerk to him. She meets a outsider, possibly suicidal, kid on a plane on her way to give a speech to some kids, and the speech was really successful because she was channeling the outsider and God is using her, or something.

The author narrates, and while she's charismatic and conversational, her conversational styles include insistent? grating? upspeak? and earnest sympathetic child psychologist. I'm not usually bothered by upspeak, but OMG?

I would recommend Greg Boyle's Tattoos on the Heart several times over before Accidental Saints. Bole manages to be a jerk sometimes but inspirational, and he shows more than tells the effects of grace and love, letting his flock take center stage more than he.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Molly Fyde and the Land of Light

  • Molly Fyde, Book 2
  • By: Hugh Howey
  • Narrated by: Jennifer O'Donnell
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 228
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 204
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 207

What began for Molly as a simple journey to retrieve her father’s old spaceship has turned into an epic adventure with far-reaching consequences. For years, she dreamed of reconnecting with her past. Now she’s going to meet it in a way she never expected: head-on. Her father is alive. Her mother’s memories are trapped inside his old ship. She’s on the run from her very own Navy, and now has been tasked with the impossible: Rescue her parents. Save the galaxy. End a war.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Incredibly Weak Prose

  • By betsy on 05-05-15

Incredibly Weak Prose

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

Reviewed: 05-05-15

So much effort is put into plot and exposition there's none left for humor, characterization, world-building, or making us care. What we get are completely flat characters and half-hearted occasional efforts. Molly loves Cole, Cole pretty much exists for nothing but loving and serving under Molly. Walter exists to be the annoying nerd, everyone else is already forgotten. There's a joke or a bit of world-building color once every few chapters. Molly is contacted by someone claiming to be her long-dead mother. The process of her resolving whether to believe this incredible claim is terribly slap-dash. She does, she doesn't she does, there's an info-dump about Turing Tests, and then it's settled, with no explanation or call-back and no use of the Turing Test idea.

The plot is episodic; this could easily be a TV series. We get into scrapes, we have predictable escapes, over and over. Molly and Cole are, no surprise, always noble and true and fearless. There's a larger plot arc that's just chasing a MacGuffin for now.

In the second half of this book, we run into a woman whose dream is to be eternally pregnant and raise a possibly unbounded number of children, dressing them all alike, calling them all the same. I believe motherhood to be a great joy, but constant pregnancy? Dozens of children? This is a really poorly thought-out version of what a woman's heaven might be.

I'm finishing this, but I've sped it up to 1.5x to get it over with quickly, a first for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Abyss Beyond Dreams

  • Chronicle of the Fallers, Book 1
  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 22 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,191
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,919
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,917

The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel - self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void. Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Avoid this Void. An Abyss It Is. Step Away! 😱

  • By David D. Schneider on 03-05-16

First Impressions

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

Reviewed: 03-28-15

This is my first Hamilton, and I don't know. There are a lot of ideas and a lot of scope here, but the execution feels sloppy and perfunctory. I was really hoping for more. This feels like the Hyperion Cantos in scope and in its mix of sci-fi with horror and slight fantasy elements, but Hyperion is much more perfused with detail.

I don't think I miss much by not having read earlier books in the related series. It's a mix of hardish sci-fi and fantasy/horror elements with an epic historical tragical comical plot, heavy on the historical-tragical.

A group of revolutionaries plans a revolution and executes on their plans, and all the major events that happen along the way are narrated drily and at length, but without interest. This is where Hamilton loses me. There are a number of long plot dumps describing textbook revolution planning, executing, and outcomes. They're dry, I'm not sure anyone's invested in them, including the author, there are no surprises, and they feel perfunctory but long. Like expositionary infodumps, but of plot. I'm not sure it's unintentional, but I do not enjoy it. I have to admit I didn't like the tragedy either. It didn't feel earned - one of the ways the major plot-moving characters are built is by POV narration sections, which are interesting, and another way they're built feels really cheap, just periodically mentioning something that hints at a backstory or a character flaw. I can't describe without spoilers, but we're seeing a version of these characters that isn't definitive. What happens to Slvasta in particular feels unearned.

The nasal qualities in Lee's voice and his falling emphasis and quick quick slow cadence and something disinterested in his tone do not enhance my enjoyment. This voice just evokes unpleasant characters to me.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain

  • By: Garth Stein
  • Narrated by: Christopher Evan Welch
  • Length: 6 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,592
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,764
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,768

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enzo (because he's so wize) for president.

  • By Lora on 06-17-08

Can you stay angry with a dog?

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

Reviewed: 03-28-15

The plot of this book is the worst. It is a tearjerker with a Hollywood ending that would embarrass the most shameless sports movie hack. Humans show unprecedented depths of depravity and heights of benevolence in destroying Enzo's owner's life - and then helping him pick it back up, all very tenuously justified. The economics of racing are viewed through the most vaselined lens possible. This is all insidiously wormed into our hearts in the words of an endearing dying dog. You need to know: If there weren't a dog in the picture, nobody would be praising this book.

The dog, Enzo, has a real and dog-like voice, earnest and enthusiastic, full of love for his family. He understands humans better than real dogs, but he's canine in his confidence, in his love for and absorption with his family and his master's auto racing, and hilariously so in his occasional lapses into bad dog behavior. The dog is funny, although some of the humor here is really odd and not safe for children. The owner, Denny, is an aspiring Seattle auto racer who's especially good in wet weather. His driving philosophy and truisms form the core of Enzo's philosophy. A racer lives in the present and tries to be vividly aware of his surroundings and control his immediate future. This story just isn't a good vehicle to explore that philosophy.

The ending is utter childish fantasy. I was so torn out of my suspension of disbelief by what happened to Denny I hardly cared what happened to Enzo. Know that up to this point, the dog's voice and the narrator's performance held me in here, and I mostly almost enjoyed this book despite all the faults.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful