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JGillSt

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  • 39
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  • The Empty Grave

  • Lockwood & Co., Book 5
  • By: Jonathan Stroud
  • Narrated by: Emily Bevan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 653
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 610
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 607

Five months after the events in The Creeping Shadow, we join Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly, and their associate Quill Kipps on a perilous night mission: they have broken into the booby-trapped Fittes Mausoleum, where the body of the legendary psychic heroine Marissa Fittes lies. Or does it?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • just the best ending ever!

  • By Amazon Customer on 09-18-17

Favorite Halloween Tradition

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-02-17

For the past few years, I've been listening to the newest Lockwood & Co during the Halloween season. I wish this series would never come to an end. The scary parts are so scary. And the funny parts are so funny. The pacing is perfect, and all the characters have wriggled their way into my heart. (Don't make me pick a favorite, I just can't live without any of them.) I have pushed this series on so many friends, and they've all loved it. No other series can make me grin so widely while being completely terrified (kind of like Lucy and Lockwood on a case).

  • And I Darken

  • By: Kiersten White
  • Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham
  • Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 486
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 453
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 453

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Unique, beautiful, and eye opening

  • By joanne on 07-08-16

A Gutsy Departure for Kiersten White

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

Reviewed: 08-30-16

Kiersten White's newest book is a tour de force and unlike anything else I've ever read by her.

In And I Darken Kiersten White recasts Vlad the Impaler as a girl, Lada Dragwlya. Vlad III, known for his ruthlessness, is most famous for being the historical inspiration for Dracula. Lada, in turn, is ruthless, smart, and fierce. She has a viciousness that is rather terrifying. You don't read about too many girls like her.

I was expecting some kind of fantastical element to this story, but it reads more like true historical fiction. White follows the outline of Vlad's life as she tells her tale. She adds detail and character to the historical facts. Plus, we have a girl Vlad so that opens up all kinds of possibilities. The book is narrated by both Lada and her brother Radu. And I really enjoyed the complicated relationship between the two siblings.

Vlad and his brother, the young princes of Wallachia, were ransomed by their father to the Ottomans in 1442. Lada and her brother Radu are as well. There they come of age, and in some ways this book is a coming of age story -- especially when it comes to Radu's part of the tale. Living in the Ottoman empire, the princess and prince are somewhat isolated. They don't really belong. The tide changes a bit when the two meet and become friends with Mehmed (the future Sultan). Mehmed is the other towering figure in And I Darken.

This book has great character development, lots of political intrigue, a high-stakes love triangle, and fabulous historical atmosphere. I really enjoyed delving into the history of the Ottoman Empire. It was so formidable for so long, but I haven't encountered it much in fiction.

This book strikes me as a gutsy departure for Kiersten White. And I Darken explores issues of gender equality, sexuality, religion, familial relationships, and politics in a sophisticated and unflinching way.

Fiona Hardingham always delivers a great performance. I'm pretty sure my enjoyment of this book was upped because I listened to the audio version. I will definitely be listening to the sequels.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Legacy of Kings

  • Blood of Gods and Royals, Book 1
  • By: Eleanor Herman
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Grace, Graham Halstead
  • Length: 16 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 45

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains, and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn and, in their ashes, empires rise. Alexander, Macedon's 16-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world, but finds himself drawn to a newcomer. Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while keeping hidden her own mission: kill the queen.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Magic in Ancient Macedonia

  • By JGillSt on 08-30-16

Magic in Ancient Macedonia

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

Reviewed: 08-30-16

In Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman brings her prowess as a historian and storyteller to the world of ancient Macedonia where a young Alexander the Great is poised to take the throne.

I have always loved ancient history and mythology, and I love a well done alternate history. In many ways, this book was meant for me. Told through a number of perspectives, the book follows several characters on their roads to self-discovery.

Filled with magic, political drama, curses, and journeys but rooted in real places and events, Legacy of Kings is a great pick for both fantasy lovers and history lovers. I enjoyed seeing how Ms. Herman incorporated the mythology and personalities of the ancient world into her fictional version of events.

I enjoyed the audio version. Graham Halstead narrates for the male characters' chapters, and Jennifer Grace narrates for the female characters' chapters. I will listen to the sequels.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • My Lady Jane

  • By: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
  • Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren
  • Length: 13 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,145
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,078
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,070

At 16, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren't for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hysterical Alternate History

  • By JGillSt on 06-17-16

Hysterical Alternate History

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

Reviewed: 06-17-16

I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a long time. Probably because it's been so long since I've read anything by Jasper Fforde. There were many laugh-out-loud moments in the reading of this book.

My Lady Jane is the story of Jane Gray who ruled England for nine days after the death of Edward VI (Henry VIII's son). But this isn't the story that you read in the history books. ("Part II: In Which We Throw History Completely Out the Window." Haha.) I didn't know what exactly the authors had changed when I started the book, and I liked that way because when I found out the central premise in the first chapter or so I was highly amused.

My Lady Jane was written by three authors, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, and they obviously had a fantastic time writing this book together. I love, I mean really love, all the narrator asides. I thought it was really fun how they were so self-conscious and meta about the telling of the tale.

The audiobook of My Lady Jane was so stickin' fantastic. Kathrine Kellgren narrates the book. (She also narrated Austenland which is one of my very favorite audiobooks). Kellgren's narration definitely made the book even funnier. She hits it out of the park with her over-the-top, tongue in cheek style. (Is that enough idioms for one sentence or what?)

Now I'm kind of at a loss for what to listen to next, and it's been a long time since a book has wrecked me for any other book.

46 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • A Room with a View

  • By: E. M. Forster
  • Narrated by: Joanna David
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 249
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 212
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 216

The story of a young and affluent middle-class girl, Lucy Honeychurch is wooed by George Emerson and Cecil Vyse whilst vacationing in Italy. Though attracted to George, Lucy becomes engaged to Cecil despite twice turning down his proposals. On hearing of the news, George confesses his love, leaving Lucy torn between marrying the more socially acceptable Cecil, or George, the man she knows would bring her true happiness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Female Narrator is a Must

  • By JGillSt on 06-09-16

Female Narrator is a Must

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

Reviewed: 06-09-16

I saw the 1985 film version of A Room with a View in graduate school. I was taking a fin de siecle class and one of my classmates decided to have A Room with a View party. The movie is pretty fabulous. The friend who organized the party said that this was a rare case where she liked the movie better than the book. For some reason, in my mind, that translated as, "the book is not very good." Well, fast forward fifteen years and another friend picked this book for book club so I had to read it. Now I can definitively say that the book is also very, very good.

I think my fondness for the film definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the book. At the very least, it helped with comprehension. I was surprised to find that the movie followed the book so closely. Really, it's a fabulous adaptation.

A Room with a View is the story of Lucy Honeychurch and the people she meets while touring Italy. E.M. Forster's book has such a splendid cast of characters. And his book is so funny in a fusty, early 20th-century British kind of way. I found it quite amusing. The bathing scene was even funnier in the book than it is in the movie.

For such a slim little book, Forster really packs in a lot. We had such a great discussion, and I was so happy that I read the book with a book group.

Finding a good narrator for this book was a must. Overdrive has a copy, but, from experience, I know that recordings of classics are often not up to snuff, and, after listening to the preview, I could tell it wasn't going to be the greatest experience. (I listened to library copies of Howard's End and Great Expectations. I have paid my dues.) So I pulled out my Audible subscription and listened to the previews of every copy they had. I settled on Joanna David's reading. (Really why are so many of the others rest narrated by men? It just seems wrong.) I'm certain that my experience was much improved thanks to this careful selection.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Firewalker

  • The Worldwalker Trilogy, Book 2
  • By: Josephine Angelini
  • Narrated by: Emma Galvin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 327
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 301
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 304

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to relax with Rowan. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape and must hide her magic for the safety of the world, but compared to fighting the monstrous Woven and leading armies in the alternate Salem, life is looking good. Unfortunately Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can't persuade Lily to return to her world, she'll have to find a way to make her come back.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • loved it

  • By Lynda on 01-30-17

Gripping Sequel

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

Reviewed: 06-05-16

I'm surprised by how much I like Josephine Angelini's Worldwalker series. I rocketed through Trial by Fire and then was incredibly eager to read the sequel. My reaction after finishing Firewalker was much the same. I sped through it and then immediately put the forthcoming sequel, Witch's Pyre, on my "highly anticipated" list.

Firewalker begins just moments after Trial by Fire concluded. Lily and Rowan have escaped to Lily's world. After a desperate recovery, Lily and Rowan begin to build a new coven, somewhat reluctantly, in order to keep Lily safe. All the while, Lillian works to get Lily to return to her world.

This series is fast-paced and gripping. It's hard to stop listening. I'm pretty sure it kept me up too late many nights. Firewalker is the best type of sequel. It reminds you why you loved the first book and the characters so much and stands on its own merit.

Also, I really enjoy the audio versions of this series. I like listening to Emma Galvin's voice, and I can't imagine consuming this series in any other format.

  • The Sin Eater's Daughter

  • By: Melinda Salisbury
  • Narrated by: Amy Shiels
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 889
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 824
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 825

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. Although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner. Goddess-embodied Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • good, bad, then good

  • By Ka on 05-05-15

Fascinating World

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

Reviewed: 05-07-16

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I wasn't expecting a love story to be such a central part of The Sin Eater's Daughter, and it kind of put the brakes on the action. Also, the love story made me super uncomfortable. Not because it was racy or anything, but because it made Twylla stupid. There's this moment when Twylla gets really suspicious midway through the book, and then she just forgets about it once the metaphorical music swells. Also, has she forgotten about the psycho queen? I wanted to scream into the book, "be a little more careful about your assignations!" But, in the end, all these uncomfortable feelings made sense and felt purposeful, which is very impressive.

Would you be willing to try another book from Melinda Salisbury? Why or why not?

Overall, I really liked Melinda Salisbury's The Sin Eater's Daughter. The reviews seem to be all across the board on this one, but I'd read the sequel tomorrow, if I could. I hope that Amy Shields narrates it.

Have you listened to any of Amy Shiels’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I listened to this book, and the narrator had the most interesting accent. Her reading definitely upped my enjoyment of this book because even during the info dumps and the lags in action, I just loved listening to her read.The pacing of this book is on the slow side. I am way forgiving of slow stories on audio. However, I think if I were to have read this, I might have felt like nothing was happening for a large portion of the novel.

Any additional comments?

I love a fantasy with an interesting religion, and this one definitely has one. I found the idea of Sin Eating incredibly fascinating. Twylla's mother is the Sin Eater and when someone dies she must feast on a banquet of food that symbolize their sins. The other aspects of the religion were richly imagined as well. And as both Daunen Embodied and the Sin Eater's daughter, Twylla is fully immersed in the religion of her world. She is a true believer.

Also, the Queen is one of the scariest, most manipulative, power-hungry villains. She might even make it onto my list of top-ten scariest villains. It might be worth it to read this book for her alone.

The book really ramped up to a pretty great finish. I loved the courtroom scene, and really all of Twylla's interactions with Merek. Too bad she doesn't seem to love them as much as I do.

  • An Ember in the Ashes

  • By: Sabaa Tahir
  • Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
  • Length: 15 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,752
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,402
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,386

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire's greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great Characters Save An Average Plot

  • By J.S. Ramiro on 07-19-16

Readers Add Much to the Story

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

Reviewed: 05-07-16

After Laia's brother is taken by the Martials, Laia seeks the help of the rebels, but their price is steep: Laia must become a slave to the Commandant, the head of Blackcliff Military Academy, in order to spy for the rebels. Elias is an Aspirant, one of four who could possibly become the next emperor. Elias has a secret. He wants out. He wants freedom.

An Ember in the Ashes reminded me a bit of Red Rising and The Hunger Games. Each has a high-stakes, deadly competition, a ruthless government, and a perhaps less-than-altruistic resistance. Sabaa Tahir's debut, however, has more supernatural elements.

I love the dark and violent Ancient Rome-inspired setting. The catacombs were a particularly nice touch. I also really enjoyed the challenges the Aspirants faced. It was hard to stop listening in the middle of a challenge. The Commandant is insanely scary and violent. She is basically a complete nightmare, and I thought she was an awesome villain.

The audio version is fabulous. It has two different readers. One for Laia and one for Elias. The readers did a great job ramping up the intensity of the story.

  • The Medieval World

  • By: Dorsey Armstrong, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,153
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,961
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,949

Far from being a time of darkness, the Middle Ages was an essential period in the grand narrative of Western history. But what was it like to actually live in those extraordinary times? Now you can find out.These 36 lectures provide a different perspective on the society and culture of the Middle Ages: one that entrenches you in the daily human experience of living during this underappreciated era.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A good start

  • By Occasional Barista on 05-26-15

Well Organized and Entertaining

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

Reviewed: 05-07-16

I listened to this lecture series while teaching Art History I. The first half of the course is roughly chronological, and the second half is more topical. This seemed to be a good way to organize things, and I appreciated getting some cultural history as well as the political history.

The course is very easy to listen to, and I'm pretty sure I'll listen to parts again whenever I need a refresher.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • 1776

  • By: David McCullough
  • Narrated by: David McCullough
  • Length: 11 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,669
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,895
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,853

In this stirring audiobook, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence, when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Front Seat on History

  • By Mark on 10-22-05

Dull Narration

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

Reviewed: 05-07-16

We read 1776 for book club. It was a small crew that day, but we had a great discussion.

1776 is definitely worth reading. However, I find military history a bit tedious, and the audio version (sorry Mr. McCullough) was pretty dull. Luckily, I had a lot of packing and cleaning to help me get through it. Or was it the other way around? I also think it's a little odd how the book only covers one year when the Revolutionary War was so long.

1776 gives a fuller picture of George Washington, who can seem like a more of a legend than a person. The story of Henry Knox and his journey with the canons is unbelievable. There are several remarkable retreats and the crossing of the Delaware is always a big hit.

It was also fun to read about the taking of Boston because it reminded me of a trip to Boston with a friend who had read the book and insisted we go to Beacon Hill so that we could see where the Americans dragged their canons in the dead of night.

Also, during the book club I could not stop mentioning the Stuff You Missed in History Podcast. This was me: "Oh, the Hessians. The Stuff You Missed in History girls just did a podcast on the Hessians." "Oh, the Boston Massacre. The Stuff You Missed in History girls just did a podcast on that topic too."