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Michael

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  • Phule's Company

  • Phule's Company, Book 1
  • By: Robert Asprin
  • Narrated by: Noah Michael Levine
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

After being court-martialed by the Space Legion for ordering the strafing of a treaty-signing ceremony, multimillionaire Willard Phule receives his punishment: He must command the misfit Omega Company on Haskin's Planet, a mining settlement on the edge of settled space. At his duty station, he leverages his personal money and a knack for managing people to get the company to come together as a unit.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant Book

  • By Mohi on 24-09-17

Sexist

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

Reviewed: 27-09-18

This author just can't seem to describe a woman without commenting on her attractiveness, her breasts or her bum. He does this constantly, even long after we've got to know the characters. It's relentless. Does he ever comment on the male characters shapely testicals or how attractive they are? Of course not. The author even does an honest to goodness no-homo at one point. I know this was written in the 90s but it really hasn't aged well.

Also, the story is about the 1% solving every situation by throwing money at problems. That side hasn't aged super well either.

  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Booktrack Edition

  • Wayfarers, Book 1
  • By: Becky Chambers
  • Narrated by: Patricia Rodriguez
  • Length: 15 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A better version of a great book

  • By Michael on 04-08-18

A better version of a great book

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

Reviewed: 04-08-18

The music and effects add a surprising amount to an already great book. I bought it again for this verion and I don't regret it. That being said, don't model your life on mine.

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few

  • Wayfarers, Book 3
  • By: Becky Chambers
  • Narrated by: Patricia Rodriguez
  • Length: 13 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat. Tessa chose to stay home when her brother, Ashby, left for the stars but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened. Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful

  • By Amazon Customer on 26-07-18

Okay book, terrible sequel

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

Reviewed: 01-08-18

You really need to know before you by this that Record of a Spaceborn Few is a Slice of Life book. By that, I mean it focusses on mundane moments and character interaction. Here are some of the events that Becky devotes an entire chapter to:
1) An extended sequence where a mother tries to put her two children to bed but they're being naughty
2) A tourist spends time thinking about how hard it is to see the 'real place' he's visiting, instead of just the tourist spots
3) Lenghty (very lenghty) notes by an anthropologist about how life works in a fleet
4) A discussion between an archivist and her wife about whether their alien visitor is being respectufl to their way of life.

You get the idea? It's all very low key, low stakes stuff. There are some higher stakes events that happen late in the book but for me they were far too little and far too late. You could hapilly skip one third of the chapters in the book at random and not miss out on much.

Becky Chambers has always flirted with Slice of Life writing. The first two Wayfairers books were far more concerned with the lives of the characters than moving the plot along at a good pace. The thing was, in Long Way the characters had to defuse bombs on space ships and deal with pirates and nearly get blown up by hostile aliens. Sidra's entire existence was under threat in A Closed and Common Orbit. As such the sudden lack of stakes makes A Spaceborn Few a terrible follow up. The only connection to the previous two books is one of the characters we follow is Asby's sister. Otherwise this book may as well be set in a different universe - unless you're really interested in how life in the Exoden fleets works.


THAT BEING SAID

It's not bad. If you're on board for a slice of life novel, and you don't mind that there aren't any stakes, then you'll have a great time here. As long as you KNOW that there basically isn't any story, you might actually find yourself having a good time. Personally, I couldn't stand it. I thought it was really boring. Becky Chambers still writes really well, and the goodwill she'd built up with me from the last two books carried me all the way to the end... but she's going to have to work really hard to get me to pre-order book 4 in the series.

Patricia Rodriguez continues to be a really good reader.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • World Without End

  • The Kingsbridge Novels, Book 2
  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 45 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,128
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,474
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,471

On the day after Halloween, in the year 1327, four children slip away from the cathedral city of Kingsbridge. They are a thief, a bully, a boy genius, and a girl who wants to be a doctor. In the forest they see two men killed. As adults, their lives will be braided together by ambition, love, greed and revenge. They will see prosperity and famine, plague and war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bereaved when it ended

  • By bex4ad on 15-03-11

Misogynistic portrayal of women (tw: rape)

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

Reviewed: 23-04-18

Couldn't stomach this all the way through. Read the first book and was uncomfortable with how rape was handled but it wasn't too bad and the rest of the story and characterisation made up for it.
This book, however has clumsily handled rape plot lines all over the place. Honestly, just unnecessary amounts of rape. Added to that, every single female character is described in weirdly sexualised terms. Women who have achieved impressive intellectual and political plot points are constantly described in terms of how perky their breasts are and how horny they are at that moment. Unsurprisingly the men are described in terms of hair colour and emotional state.
Honestly it's weird because it seems like it's meant to a kind of feminist book (monks = bad, nuns = good, women = capable of running businesses etc well, men = failing to adapt to changes to society) but the actual portrayal of the female characters and the dubious ways that rape is dealt with undermine the whole text.
Overall the plot is seriously lacking compared to the first book both historically and in the characters' personal lives and given that most of the male characters are arseholes (even the 'good' ones) and the women are reduced to being nymphomaniacs this is not worth the sexism. Also the sex scenes are weird, awkward and tediously frequent.

  • Differently Morphous

  • By: Yahtzee Croshaw
  • Narrated by: Yahtzee Croshaw
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,103
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,039
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,038

A magical serial killer is on the loose, and gelatinous, otherworldly creatures are infesting the English countryside. Which is making life for the Ministry of Occultism difficult, because magic is supposed to be their best kept secret. After centuries in the shadows, the Ministry is forced to unmask, exposing the country's magical history - and magical citizens - to a brave new world of social media, government scrutiny, and public relations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Half Supernatural thriller, half Yes Minister

  • By Anonymous User on 16-03-18

Half political argument and half story

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

Reviewed: 19-03-18

Yahtzee really should have worked out before he started to write this book if he was writing a novel or if he was writing a piece of political commentary.

The book is written with Yahtzee's characteristic humour. His prose is tight and snappy. The writing is around the same level of quality as in Will Save The Galaxy For Food - so a big improvement on his first two books.

The real problem with Differently Morphous comes from the characters. There are only three or four actual characters in the entire book - characters with their own motivations, wants, desires, flaws and so on. Most of the characters are poorly disguised straw men (or straw people, to be more accurate) who have been constructed to represent both sides of a political argument.

The book has a lot to say on current political talking points, such as identity politics, institutionalisation, how the internet loves a hate mob and so on. The problem is none of it is particuclarly coherent. Characters from both sides of the debate spout comically oversized talking points. One character (the only person of colour in the book) is a ridiculously overblown hippie who complains about everything and everyone behaving offensively. She is pitted against a selection of people who are thinly veiled allegories for ignorant hate-mongers.

As far as I can tell, the book never has anything to say itself. It is happy to line up these straw people and have them rant for pages at a time, but it very carefully comes down on neither side of the issue. The book sits on the fence, making fun of both sides, but never having the courage to get down off the fence and put itself in the firing line. It's a very Team America: World Police sort of satire - the sort that takes pride in its ability to make fun of everyone, but never has the bravery to state where it stands on any of the issues discussed.

This is what I mean when I say that Yahtzee should have decided if he was writing a novel or an allegory. If he was writing a novel, then he failed because most of the characters are two dimensional people who exist only to posit political nonsense. If he was writing a political alegory then he failed because the book never actually engages with the issues, it just sneers from the sidelines.

There are other issues. The plot is basically fine, although there is a twist near the end which is so unbelievably bad it squandered what little patience I had left with the book.

It's a real shame becasue Differently Morphous starts out really well. The protagonist is a fun subversion of the Hermione Granger archetype and there the various early plot moves Yahtzee makes causes the story to really stake out its own terratory. It feels fresh and new. Then things get spoiled somewhat by the political stuff.

Generally speaking, Differently Morphous is fun and witty and mostly well written. If you think you can get past the political stuff that annoyed me so much, I think you'll really, really enjoy it. If you get annoyed by Yahtzee's ranting about Social Justice Warriors, at the same time as he seems to support most of the same positions Social Justice Warriors take, I'd leave this one alone.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • The Devil You Know

  • A Felix Castor Novel, Book 1
  • By: Mike Carey
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 13 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117

Felix Castor used to cast out demons for a living, and London was his stomping grounds. But in a time when the supernatural realm is in upheaval and spilling over into the mundane world of the living, his skills are in renewed demand. With old debts to pay, Castor is left with no choice but to accept one final, well-paying assignment: a seemingly simple exorcism. Trouble is, the more he discovers about the ghost in the archive, the more things refuse to add up.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A good yarn - appalling narration

  • By mark on 10-06-12

OK story, weird narration

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

Reviewed: 03-03-18

So the story is fine in a pulpy predictable low grade sexism throughout kind of way. But the narration is distractingly weird. This guy cannot be British, his prenounciation of a number of words is unlike any English speaker I have ever heard (I am a Brit) he continually uses the incorrect vowels in words and it is annoying as hell.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Metronome

  • By: Oliver Langmead
  • Narrated by: Cameron Stewart
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

It is for the entities known as Sleepwalkers to cross between dreams and hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. Theirs is a world of impossible vistas, where reason is banished and imagination holds sway: the connected worlds that all sleeping minds inhabit, and the doors that lead between. But tonight, one Sleepwalker has gone rogue. Abandoning her oath to protect the dreamscapes, she has devoted herself to another cause, threatening to unleash a nightmare older than man.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Imaginative but flawed

  • By Michael on 12-02-18

Imaginative but flawed

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

Reviewed: 12-02-18

The vast majority of the book is set in a shared dream. This is inventive, but it has the serious problem that there can't be any stakes for the characters. If the characters die in this dream, they just wake up. There can't be any real peril for the characters if they're just going to wake up. This really hurts the drama and the motivation of the characters.

The main threat of the book is a Nightmare King - a creature that (it is said) can influence people to do naughty things upon waking. The thing is, we never *see* this happen, so we don't know if the characters are just making stuff up.

These two points mean that it's really hard to care about anything that happens in the book. Maybe if the characterisation was rock solid this could be made up for. The characterisation is fine but nothing particularly special.

The reader is pretty good.

  • The Collapsing Empire

  • The Interdependency, Book 1
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 626
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 592
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 588

Our universe is ruled by physics, and faster-than-light travel is not possible - until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transports us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It's a hedge against interstellar war - and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Juvenile

  • By Sally on 14-04-17

Pretty decent Scalzi

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

Reviewed: 10-04-17

Have you listened to any of Wil Wheaton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Wil continues to be a really good narrator. He does a slightly curious performance for three members of a family in this book. I *think* he was trying to sound English but he just ended up sounding pompous and weird. Otherwise he was as good as he usually is.

Any additional comments?

If you've listened to a John Scalzi book before you know what you're getting. A fun Sci Fi universe with extremely light characterisation. The idea of the collapsing empire is a strong one and it kept me interested throughout.

Scalzi does do the thing sci-fi authors _love_ doing when they're writing what they intend to be a long running series - he forgets to have a satisfying conclusion. The book just ends after ten hours. There is sort of a conclusion but it does feel like this series has maybe 30-40 hours of plot in it and Scalzi just cut the first 9 hours from that block, tacked a hasty conclusion on the end and pushed it out into the world.

That's not exactly a bad thing, but it means the book definitely ends with a 'is that it' feeling, rather than a nice satisfying conclusion. If the rest of the series turns out to be good it probably won't matter but for now, it's a bit of a problem.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Will Save the Galaxy for Food

  • By: Yahtzee Croshaw
  • Narrated by: Yahtzee Croshaw
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,023
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,895
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,896

Space travel just isn't what it used to be. With the invention of Quantum Teleportation, space heroes aren't needed anymore. When one particularly unlucky ex-adventurer masquerades as famous pilot and hate figure Jacques McKeown, he's sucked into an ever-deepening corporate and political intrigue. Between space pirates, adorable deadly creatures, and a missing fortune in royalties, saving the universe was never this difficult!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Stumbled across this 'plying' beauty

  • By M.Brad on 11-04-17

The first Yahtzee book I'd recommend

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

Reviewed: 02-04-17

Any additional comments?

I've listened to Yahtzee's books before and they've been... fine? Quite funny in places but both Mogworld and Jam fell apart a bit in the third act.

Will Save the Galaxy for Food didn't fall apart at any point. It was compelling and funny throughout. It never felt like a parody. It had well realised characters with strong motivations. There were the occasional story wobbles and Yahtzee isn't the worlds greatest narrator but generally this was a really strong book. I'd happily recommend this to any fan of sci-fi comedy, even someone who wasn't already a fan of Zero Punctuation. Fans of John Scalzi, Douglas Adams and Jasper Fforde should definitely check this out.

  • The Paradox

  • By: Charlie Fletcher
  • Narrated by: Charlie Fletcher
  • Length: 10 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 198
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 191
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190

Those who belong to the secret society called The Oversight know many things. They know cold iron will hold back the beasts in the darkness. They know it is dangerous to stand between two mirrors. And they know that despite their dwindling numbers, it remains their duty to protect humanity from the predations of the supernatural. And vice versa. But two of the society's strongest members, Mr. Sharp and Sara Falk, are trapped in the world between the mirrors, looking for each other, searching for a way back home.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Oh dear no Simon Prebble reading.

  • By Michael on 15-08-16

Nothing happens

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

Reviewed: 21-11-16

What disappointed you about The Paradox?

This isn't a book with a beginning middle and end. It's a book where various plot threads are introduced and then spin their wheels for ten hours.

What was most disappointing about Charlie Fletcher’s story?

Charlie spins maybe two hours of content out over a ten hour book. Few things are resolved by the end of the novel. Most threads are clearly meant to be resolved in the next book.

How could the performance have been better?

Charlie could have hired a professional voice over artist, like he did in the first novel, rather than doing it himself. His narration is flat and uninteresting.

What character would you cut from The Paradox?

I wouldn't necessarily cut any characters, I'd just have more things happen.