- To Kill a Mockingbird (Narrated by Sally Darling)
I absolutely loved this. Both the story and the performance were excellent.
Ursula K. LeGuin
- The Lathe of Heaven (Narrated by Susan O'Malley)
The imagery in this story is wonderful. I wasn’t so much impressed by the quality of the audiobook, but the story itself kept me listening. That only happens if there’s something really special about it. I have to be enthralled to put up with hisses and pops.
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
- Lucifer’s Hammer (Narrated by Marc Vietor)
This is one of those stories that will probably stick with me. It’s a classic doomsday tale. A comet impacts earth and—big surprise—things go badly. The thing that makes it good is all of the characters. There are at least a dozen well formed, interesting individuals from different walks of life shown banding together to survive. It’s very much like the second book in the MaddAddam Trilogy in that respect. That was what liked about The Year of the Flood—the reason I said I enjoyed it more than the first book.
I enjoyed this a bit more than that.
- I am Legend (Narrated by Angus McInnes)
My own compulsive nature is the only thing that got me through this one. I kept coming back to it until it was done. I literally listened to two Agatha Christie books between segments of this book and it isn’t that long. The entire runtime amounts to around five and a half hours. It was one of those vampire classics. I had to finish.
The concept was interesting. It was the protagonist that killed it for me. I really didn’t like him or his ‘I’ve gotta get laid or I’m gonna die’ mentality.
- The Bell Jar (Narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal)
I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed this. The quality of the narrative and the narrator were both excellent.
- Mistborn – Book 1 – The Final Empire (Narrated by Michael Kramer)
- Mistborn – Book 2 – The Well of Ascension (Narrated by Michael Kramer)
- Mistborn – Book 3 – The Hero of Ages (Narrated by Michael Kramer)
- The Alloy of Law - A Mistborn Novel (Narrated by Michael Kramer)
I absolutely freaking loved the initial trilogy, though I must say that the end of book three feels rushed. There were also a few things that niggled at my sense of continuity. Nothing much. I wrote them off to an intentionally misleading narrative. They were just that subtle.
I was bothered that of all of the people who are used by Corruption, Vin is the one who is most grossly, subtly deceived. The majority of the other characters were blatantly controlled. They all happen to be men as well. The message in that feels a bit slippery.
The complaints that she’s overpowered from other readers annoyed me even more. Had she been a masculine character, I doubt anyone would’ve bitched. No one complains about Iron Man or Thor after all. Talk about overpowered. Vin starts out a street urchin and ends up with a very Iron Man sort of presence without the millionaire playboy aspect or the fancy metal suit. If that bothers you, don’t trouble yourself with these books.
This trilogy is a story of growth and death. As Vin grows, the world around her dies. I frankly found that fascinating.
The magic system Sanderson created for this series rocks. I’ve never run into anything quite like it. I also have much, much love for anyone who writes action as competently as he does. He’s plainly a creative, skillful author. I can’t think of a single thing that I’ve seen him do poorly.
The final book is set roughly three-hundred years after the initial trilogy. I actually read this one first. That might’ve been a mistake. And it might not have been. I enjoyed it quite a lot the first time through. The first book of the trilogy gave me a bit of trouble getting started because I had all sorts of preconceived ideas as a result of reading out of order. When I made it through the trilogy and came back to it, I didn’t enjoy the second listen half as well. I’m not sure what my impression would’ve been had I listened to them in order the first time through. I suspect it would’ve been the same as the second listen, which makes me kind of glad I approached it the way I did because ‘The Alloy of Law’ really is a good little story. It’s just not the caliber of story the trilogy is. Read and you’ll understand.
- Elantris (Narrated by Jack Garrett)
What happens to a culture when its gods fall from grace? Add the fact that the gods were physical beings and the method of their fall was a wasting disease and you’ve pretty much got the premise this story is based on. Tell me there aren’t possibilities in that to preach. The thing is, other than a message of courage and selfless kindness, this story didn’t appear to me to be a soap box. It was just a good piece of fiction outlining a hero’s journey.The plot was a bit predictable. It wasn’t perfect. It was also his first novel and I’m totally willing to give him slack for that. The ending wasn’t stellar. It left lots of room for sequels while tying up the majority of the existing plot threads. It was good, not great.
- Warbreaker (Narrated by James Yaegashi)
This story had a lot in common with Elantris. It had a silly side that Elantris never showed. The intrigues are of a slightly different flavor too. Overall it’s a much lighter story. It really was quite good. I have yet to read anything by Sanderson that wasn’t.
The one minor complaint I had was with the performance. It wasn’t terrible, but I found one aspect jarring. In a feudal, quasi-medieval culture, James Yaegashi characterized one of the people’s gods as a SoCal surfer dude.
Warbreaker is available free for download on Brandon Sanderson’s website. He not only offers the completed story, but all of his revisions and notes.
- The Way of Kings: Book One of The Stormlight Archive (Narrated by Kate Reading, Michael Kramer)
I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series. That should pretty much say it all. This story had the chops to be as good as Mistborn.
- Legion (Narrated by Oliver Wyman)
This was a fun little short story. The concept was pretty clever. The protagonist and all of his various alts were amusing. It was sort of like Perception (the TV show) with the main character suffering from multiple personality disorder; only his various imaginary friends took a slightly more active role.
John Scalzi (Editor), Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder
- METAtropolis (Narrated by Scott Brick, Michael Kramer, Kandyse McClure)
The first story in this anthology nearly sent me packing. It felt heavy-handed so I just couldn’t get into it. I persevered and I’m glad I did. The remaining stories were marvelous.
- Frankenstein (Narrated by Margaret Tarner)
I was surprised by how simplistic this story was. It reads like novice fanfiction. Things happen, magically timing out just perfectly to compel the plot. Happenstance doesn’t exist. It truly is awful and Doctor Frankenstein is a very unhappy man.
For all that, it struck a chord. The idea was innovative even if its delivery was unsophisticated.
- Quicksilver, Vol. I of the Baroque Cycle
- Book 1 – Quicksilver (Narrated by Simon Prebble and Stina Nielsen)
- Book 2 – The King of the Vagabonds (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson)
- Book 3 – Odalisque (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Katherine Kellgren, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson)
- The Confusion, Vol. II of the Baroque Cycle
- Book 4 – Bonanza (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Katherine Kellgren, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson)
- Book 5 – The Juncto (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Katherine Kellgren, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson)
- The System of the World, Vol. III of the Baroque Cycle
- Book 6 – Solomon’s Gold (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson)
- Book 7 – Currency (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Neal Stephenson, Kevin Pariseau)
- Book 8 – The System of the World (Narrated by Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson)
- Cryptonomicon(Narrated by William Dufris)
I read the ‘Cryptonomicon’ first. Then I looped around and read the ‘Baroque Cycle.’ I have to say that the ‘Cryptonomicon’ was the real gem in the pile, though there are details to be gleaned from the ‘Baroque Cycle’ that add meaning to the ‘Cryptonomicon.’ All told the read was arduous. I almost gave up on ‘Quicksilver.’ The tales of Isaac Newton and his buddies at Trinity College huffing mercury and dissecting living dogs during the plague years were a bit much to take. Many of his contemporaries came off like budding serial killers, while he himself seemed like just another insufferable, privileged asshole.
I got through that and rather enjoyed the tale of Half-Cocked Jack Shaftoe (King of the Vagabonds) and his harem girl Eliza. Eliza was a firecracker and Jack was a buffoon with what seemed like the worst luck ever…that really wasn’t. The worst luck ever would’ve seen him dead at the start of the story. His luck just had him perpetually miserable. The thing is, Jack was a Shaftoe. All of the Shaftoe boys were the sorts of men who made the best of what they had. They managed to remain stupidly cheerful even in situations that might earn them the nickname ‘Half-Cocked.’ Terribly amusing characters. And that’s the thing that made this series good. Some of the characters were just priceless.
I’d totally recommend that you wade through it if you haven’t. At least read the Cryptonomicon. It’s really good.
- Dracula (Narrated by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren…)
This was actually quite good. It was not a dramatization. Instead, it was the original novel read by a great cast, each one taking a specific part. It was well done. I enjoyed it very much.
- The Night Watch (Narrated by Juanita McMahon)
I enjoyed this so much that I listened to it a second time recently. It is essentially the anti-Blackout/All Clear. And I treated it that way the second time through, listening to the two books by Connie Willis before I listened to the one by Sarah Waters.
There are so many stories of courage and sacrifice that go along with the Second World War, particularly the ones set in England. This was the story of a brother and sister and their various friends and acquaintances that were not heroes. They were the people who did not behave like perfect, selfless angels. Some of them were marginalized because they didn’t fit the social norm. Others found themselves in situations that required them to behave badly, or made them feel that they needed to.
In other words, this was a story about real, flawed human beings in extraordinary circumstances and how they were affected both during and after the war.
I thought it was marvelous. The coolest part was that while these characters didn’t all know each other, they were all linked.
- Affinity (Narrated by Juanita McMahon)
Ever wonder what a women’s prison might’ve been like in England during the late 1800s?
Yeah, me either.
This is a pretty depressing book that was relatively slow to unfold. But darn it, I still enjoyed it. Sarah Waters is just one of those writers who has a marvelous grasp of character and language. I think she could probably tell a story about a sanitation worker and make it engaging.Anyway, if you like her work, you should listen to this. It’s rather good.
- The Little Stranger (Narrated by Simon Vance)
This is something of a departure from the usual Sarah Waters fare. The protagonist is a man. The story is about a haunting in post-war England. It’s also a story of social classes, which isn’t that far from her usual mark. To me, the complete absence of lesbian characters is the real departure.
I enjoyed it well enough, but I wouldn’t rave about it. The complaints that the plot is slow to unfold are typical. None of her stories are fast paced. I actually kind of like that. The other common complaint is that the plot is predictable. I’d have to kind of agree with that. This isn’t one of her better works. It’s still good. The characters are interesting. The plot is sufficiently compelling to keep to one listening.
It isn’t a bad book. It’s just not great one.
- Even the Queen & Other Short Stories (Narrated by Connie Willis)
I hate to say this, but Connie Willis has a terrible voice. She’s very shrill. I didn’t enjoy listening to this, though at least one of the stories in the anthology was quite cute. Give it a test listen before you buy.