LISTENER

Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews

  • 10
  • reviews
  • 3
  • helpful votes
  • 10
  • ratings
  • The Hunger

  • Written by: Alma Katsu
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 18

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone - or something - is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow an experimental route West, or just bad luck - the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest adventures in history.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • great

  • By Amazon Customer on 2019-03-05

4.5 Stars! Who's the real monster?

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

History is filled with many fabulous stories that can skillfully be turned into fictional horror. The less we know, the fewer the survivors, the more horrific the actions of the participants, all the more readily we are to accept the involvement of evil.

The Donner Party’s trek across America in 1846 wasn’t really all that long ago, not even 175 years. The events are fairly well-documented, the survival rate above fifty percent, not bad considering, but what those people had to do to survive…Katsu took this story and brought it to life. She delved into the nitty gritty details of life on the wagon train. The image that I think we all have is of the flat plains that roll across the country. I always forget that the most difficult part of this voyage would have been the Rocky Mountains. The true trials would have been during the last half of that voyage. Katsu played off of this, creating a monster to instill fear in all of us.

I love how Katsu kept her casting to the historical records, it lends a certain plausibility/possibility to her story. She changed perspectives during the story so that her audience could get the full picture of events, a peek into everyone’s head.

My experience of The Hunger was through the audiobook. I found that the narrator did an excellent job. Kirsten Potter enhanced the creepy factor to an already eerie story.

Listening to The Hunger, I was constantly pulled back to the feeling that I had while reading The Terror. What’s funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) is that these two events are so similar while completely different and only a year apart. This was a time of exploration, when people thought they were masters of the world. Although, in both of these stories Mother Nature showed them who was really in charge – something she still likes to do from time to time.

  • Ararat

  • Written by: Christopher Golden
  • Narrated by: Robert Fass
  • Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

Christopher Golden's Ararat is the heart-pounding tale of an adventure that goes wrong - on a biblical scale. When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mount Ararat in Turkey, a daring, newly engaged couple are determined to be the first ones inside...and what they discover will change everything. The cave is actually a buried ancient ship that many quickly come to believe is Noah's Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Felt like it was written for me.

  • By Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews on 2019-02-16

Felt like it was written for me.

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

*4.5 Stars

I love a story with a mysterious monster, make it biblical in nature and I am hooked. Ararat is one of those books I had been eyeing for a while before finally embarking on the voyage.

Golden masterfully created his cast of characters, although listed as Ben Walker #1, there were many other characters with critical roles. All of these characters were exceptionally developed with values and vices. These players in the story pulled me in and kept me wanting more.

I’ve got a couple of self-defined categories that I love; the first I refer to as archaeological adventure, these are modern-based stories that poke into ancient cultures; the second is biblical horror. Golden captured both of these sub-genres perfectly in one fantastic story.

As a former classical studies student, I love stories that look back into the past, a new, different view of what once was. These stories often offer a what if? aspect to the past, and I often find it helps me bond with the story and the characters.

It’s hard to beat biblical horror, it plays off the belief system I was raised with. Monsters are fine and all, but I always find there is something more realistic when it’s based on my own beliefs.

My foray into Ararat was via the audiobook. The narration was well done and enhanced my experience. Robert Fass conveyed the story without really being noticed just for being the narrator.

Ararat kicked off with a great hook and kept me entrenched in the story.

  • Roman Holiday

  • The Chronicles of St. Mary's
  • Written by: Jodi Taylor
  • Narrated by: Zara Ramm
  • Length: 1 hr and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

Another rollicking short story from the Chronicles of St Mary’s author Jodi Taylor. Question: What sort of idiot installs his mistress in his wife’s house? Especially when that mistress is Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, queen of Egypt and the most notorious woman of her time? Answer: Julius Caesar - poised to become king of Rome. Or as good as.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A fun listen.

  • By Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews on 2019-02-16

A fun listen.

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

I was looking for a quick little story to listen to on my Friday commute. I really didn’t want to start a full-length book and then let it sit over the weekend. An hour and a quarter trip back in time to meet Julius Caesar and Cleopatra seemed like just the thing.

This was my first time-traveling adventure with the gang from St. Mary’s, and I have to admit, even though Roman Holiday is #3.5 in the series, I didn’t feel like I was out of the loop at all.

I loved the snarky, sarcastic attitude of the protagonist, and Zara Ramm’s performance complimented this attitude perfectly. I had a lot of great chuckles as I listened. I have since added Jodi Taylor’s other books to my wish list and I’m looking forward to more historical/hilarious adventures with her.

  • Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings

  • A Chronicles of St. Mary's Short Story
  • Written by: Jodi Taylor
  • Narrated by: Zara Ramm
  • Length: 1 hr and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

It’s Christmas again at St Mary's and time for Max’s obligatory illegal jump. On this occasion, however, they’re right up against it. A loaded gun has been left behind in Ancient Egypt, and it’s up to them to retrieve it before anyone accidentally blows their own head off, thus affecting the timeline for centuries to come. And as if that’s not enough, someone (Max) has inadvertently poisoned Mr Markham. It’s hot, they’re running out of supplies, they can’t find the gun and it’s all going horribly wrong. Again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun.

  • By Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews on 2019-02-16

Fun.

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

*3.5 Stars

I’ll give Jodi Taylor this, she’s got a good thing going on with The Chronicles of St. Mary’s. I’ve grabbed a few of her shorts on Audible. They are great little distractions on my daily commute.

Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings takes its readers on a quick little holiday trip back to ancient Egypt. It is filled with what I am coming to know as Taylor’s trademark sarcastic humor. Let’s be honest, the story has to move quickly for an hour and a half, there really isn’t a whole lot of time to waste.

What I really like about The Chronicles of St. Mary’s shorts is that I can just jump midway into the series without following the full-length books in the series.

While it’s not a full-length, in depth story, Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings was fun and entertaining. Job done!

  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

  • Written by: Kim Fu
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert, Soneela Nankani, Sophie Amoss, and others
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 31

A group of young girls descends on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets, and camp songs by the fire. Filled with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore traces these five girls through and beyond this fateful trip.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awesome!

  • By Amanda S. on 2018-09-19

A twist on my usual coming of age story

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

Sometimes I’ll read a synopsis and get a specific idea in my head. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s the reality of what I do.

When I read the synopsis of The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, I thought: Awesome! This sounds like a West Coast, female version of The Troop meets Stand by Me (tell me that doesn’t sound fabulous). But when I got into the story I realized that wasn’t the case. I had to push my own reset button, get over my own disappointment and immerse myself in the story at hand.

To me, Fu’s story came across as five stories, tied together by one tragic event. Each of these stories were intriguing and well presented in the audiobook, with a different narrator for each of the girls. I think that as a reader I do have to let go of where I thought the story was going to go and just enjoy the one that the author wants to tell me.

In the end, I enjoyed the story. Fu gave me the story that I needed and not the one I expected. I really came to appreciate the coming of age story from the female perspective, something that seems to me to be lacking.

  • Annihilation

  • The Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1
  • Written by: Jeff VanderMeer
  • Narrated by: Carolyn McCormick
  • Length: 6 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 177
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 176

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. This is the 12th expedition, and their group is made up of four women. Part of their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens, and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers, but it's the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Oh boy...

  • By Anonymous User on 2018-10-05

3.5 stars

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

Appropriately, this is going to be a strange one. My Annihilation experience was perhaps as unusual as the story itself. I grabbed the audiobook for this experience. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, I generally set my expectations high when the powers that be decide to turn the book into a movie. They are rarely ever able to duplicate the magic of a fantastic book, but the base is often a sure bet.

Imagine, if you will, a story told by Spock, all emotion, color and emphasis gone. A purely analytical, scientific telling of the events of the story. Annihilation got me thinking more about what I want from a book and not about this particular book. Not a good sign. My decision, give me a Klingon narrator, I want the larger than life emotion, the instability of the protagonist, I want a kaleidoscope of a story.

That being said, I would have to say that the performance of the audiobook was better than the story itself. Carolyn McCormick’s performance was flawless. She embodied the analytical nature of The Biologist (yes, I’ve capitalized the protagonist’s profession, it’s the only way she is identified). The narration made the story mildly interesting. Casting matters.

Following the audiobook, I made the mistake of asking my wife to watch the movie with me (I’ll be hearing about that for some time to come). At this point, my hopes weren’t high, boy oh boy, that did not even come close. I get that not everything translates well to the movie, but this seemed like a completely different story.

Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be returning to The Southern Reach series in any of its forms. The story gets a 3.5 stars; the audiobook performance a 4, and the movie – a waste of time.

  • Muse of Nightmares

  • Written by: Laini Taylor
  • Narrated by: Steve West
  • Length: 15 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep. Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice - save the woman he loves, or everyone else? - while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • aahhh

  • By courtney cooper on 2019-03-31

A guilty pleasure!

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

*7 Stars!

No book by my favorite pink-haired author would be complete without cake. Yes, there is cake in Muse of Nightmares, and that is the last spoiler that you’re going to get from me.

Less than two months ago I finished reading Strange the Dreamer, I was so captivated by this amazing world created by Taylor that I wanted…no, needed to get to the rest of the story. That in itself tells you how good this series is.

Muse of Nightmares was book perfection. The main characters enthralled me, the supporting cast filled in every aspect of the story. There were moments that I had to wonder if this was all part of some master plan or if the author came across a bridge and realized if she changed a certain aspect of a character it would allow her to resolve the problem in the most fantastical way. Everything flowed seamlessly.

As a non-YA reader, Laini Taylor’s books have become my guilty pleasure. There is something about the way she puts her stories together, the way she phrases her thoughts, it takes me away to another place.

With the way my reading was going, I went with the audiobook version of Muse of Nightmares. I’ll admit, I was worried about how Taylor’s magical prose and phrasing would translate into the spoken word. Steve West’s performance was an impeccable fit, his English accent highlighted the text.

While my enjoyment of Muse of Nightmares may not have been a surprise, the story is filled with jaw droppers and how did I not see that coming. The duet format is becoming a personal favorite, the length of the overall story is not daunting and the author is confident enough to tie things up. It makes me prepared to invest in more of the author’s stories.

I want more worlds from Laini Taylor.

  • Galapagos

  • Written by: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 28

Galapagos takes the listener back one million years to AD 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galapagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, totally different human race. Kurt Vonnegut, America's master satirist, looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry - and all that is worth saving.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incredible!

  • By Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews on 2019-02-16

Incredible!

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

*7 Stars!

I think that everyone’s reading is influenced early on by the people in our lives. Parents, teachers, friends, they all tend to point us in certain directions for our reading. My influencing factors pointed me in directions other than Vonnegut. But I’ve heard his name come up frequently over the past few years, so it seemed to be about time to give him a shot. I’ve certainly been missing something special.

Based on my usual criteria, if I even have usual criteria, Galapagos should have been a 3-star rating. There was very little action or character development, and no real climax, but there was something exceptionally special about how the story was told. The best way I can describe my experience is comparing it to putting a puzzle together; you know what the picture is, it’s right there in front of you, but the fun or the challenge is figuring out how all of the pieces fit together.

Vonnegut’s big brain has explored the big picture of change and adaptation. I loved the way he highlighted how insignificant many of humanity’s “accomplishments” really are: in a million years no one will know or care about the 45th President of the United States, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or Kurt Vonnegut, for that matter. We are just tiny specks on the massive timeline. Life will continue in one way or another and our mistakes and inaction can be just as significant as our “accomplishments.”

I “read” the audiobook of Galapagos and found Jonathan Davis’ narration to be a perfect match for the story. He kept me captivated with his matter-of-fact tone and sarcastic inflection. Davis became Leon Trout.

While post-apocalyptic in scope, it is not your typical post-apocalyptic story in nature…then again, I don’t think that there is anything typical about Kurt Vonnegut.

I love it when I find an author like this!

  • The Christmas Hirelings

  • Written by: Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 151
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 140
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 140

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
  • Wonderful!

  • By Audrey Beattie on 2018-12-17

Enjoyable.

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

It’s always fun getting into the holiday season. When I saw that The Christmas Hirelings was being offered for free on Audible, I thought that it would be a great addition to my holiday preparations.

The Christmas Hirelings is set in Braddon’s contemporary period, circa mid to late eighteen hundreds. It is set in an aristocratic household and revolves around a preposterous idea. A group of people with more money than brains decide to hire some children to enhance their own merriment during the Christmas season.

At first I was floored by the sheer arrogance that these people thought nothing of this idea, even going so far as discussing the temperament that these children must possess. As the story went on, the true intentions of the characters became evident. I saw early on where the story was going, but often the ride is more fun than the destination.

Richard Armitage’s narration was fantastic. He really immersed himself into the characters, each one with their own particular lilt or accent. It felt more like a presentation than a simple narration of a story.

  • Of Blood and Bone

  • (Chronicles of The One, Book 2)
  • Written by: Nora Roberts
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 141
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 139

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before - the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted - and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden. In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it!

  • By Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews on 2019-02-16

Loved it!

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

Reviewed: 2019-02-16

After completing Year One, Nora Roberts had me primed for book two, Of Blood and Bone, in her Chronicles of The One series. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I’ll do my best to write this review, but this is not the type of series where you could jump in anywhere along the way. Roberts is building off of the world she masterfully created in Year One. At the same time, she leaves the necessary, gentle reminders of what happened in the first book, there is a full year between the release dates, and I cannot be expected to remember every detail.

Of Blood and Bone jumps a few years into the future since the events of Year One. The story is more about the children, while the adults are still present and active. I connected easily to the new characters and invested myself in their lives. This is a story where the good guys are very, very good and the bad guys are very, very bad, and sometimes well camouflaged.

I decided to use my monthly Audible credit for this book. When I wasn’t listening to Julia Whelan’s narration, I was thinking about the story and this post-apocalyptic world that Roberts created. When I was listening to it, I wanted the story to go on and on. I came to appreciate Whelan’s skill as a narrator, each character had a unique tone to their voice that she maintained consistent throughout.

The best part of finding a series that you love as a reader is that you have more to look forward to. The best part of the series being a trilogy is the tension that you feel waiting for the third book. The end is in sight, but you have to wait for it; November 26th and The Rise of Magicks is circled on my calendar.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful