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T. L. Walker

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.

Montgomery, Al, USA | Member Since 2015

19
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 21 ratings
  • 198 titles in library
  • 79 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
1

  • Obsession

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Kayla Perrin
    • Narrated By Drosty Kane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    After her husband confesses to a racy but ultimately unfulfilling affair, Sophie Gibson's rage leaves her raw, unable to process his attempt to repair the damage by suggesting she have her own tryst.

    Evangeline says: "Very Steamy!"
    "Perrin knows how to craft a story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Perrin knows how to start a good story. She just seems to have some problems actually seeing her stories through to the end. This is the second book I've read by her where it just seemed the ending fell flat for me.

    Also, I had a hard time caring about Sophie. She came off as brat-ish, and her brat-ish behavior followed her to the end. I did sympathize with her, cheer her on, and feet her pain, but she made it hard sometimes to do so. When I was finally at that point where I thought I could really like her, her shallow behavior ruined that. There seemed to be no real character growth for her. She seemed to think that love was gauged by who bought her the better tennis bracelet. (But I loved all of Perrin's characters in Getting Even, so I know she can write more compelling characters than Sophie.)

    I'll continue to read Perrin's works because she can create an intriguing storyline. She just needs to work on her weak endings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wreckage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Emily Bleeker
    • Narrated By Kristin Watson Heintz, Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (199)
    Performance
    (169)
    Story
    (168)

    Lillian Linden is a liar. On the surface, she looks like a brave survivor of a plane crash. But she's been lying to her family, her friends, and the whole world since rescue helicopters scooped her and her fellow survivor, Dave Hall, off a deserted island in the South Pacific. Missing for almost two years, the castaways are thrust into the spotlight after their rescue, becoming media darlings overnight. But they can't tell the real story--so they lie.

    T. L. Walker says: "It wasn't a badly written book, but..."
    "It wasn't a badly written book, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book started out promising, even as I joked, "Is this going to be like that Guy Ritchie and Madonna movie?" Looking at some of the other reviews for this book that thought terrible things like cannibalism would come into play while reading this, I wished I'd been more creative with my question. I will admit that I initially picked it up because I was hoping that I was going to get something like The Woman Who Wasn't There (a documentary about a woman who faked being a 911 survivor for many years). The more I got into the story, the more dissatisfied I became with it.

    My main problem with this book is the whole idea it's based on. Why did Lillian and David feel the need to make up such a complex story? You were stranded on an island. You didn't think you were coming home. No one thought you were alive. While hurtful, no one can blame you for whatever happened there in such a stressful situation. I get there are things that happened on that island that would hurt their partners. Just tell the truth so people can heal and move on.

    I'm not so much annoyed that they chose to lie, but what they chose to lie about and the types of lies they chose to tell. Some of these lies, like Kent's death (and Kent only served to be the mustache twirling villain who knew exactly how to survive on a deserted island making him feel necessary to the two), weren't even worth the effort to lie about. If you feel you have to lie, why would you unnecessarily complicate your story with excess lies? Not only that, one of the lies you told was perhaps the easiest to debunk because of the wonders of modern medicine, and it was debunked because of the wonders of modern medicine.

    The dialogue was so trite. It just didn't feel like things that people would say to each other. I could see this dialogue being in one of those old 80s young adult books I used to read, just real shallow, banal quality for the most part. I found myself unintentionally frowning up at most of it. Some of these other points of contention, I'm not even going to comment on because I'll never stop talking about it, such as Paul. Insert ominous music here.

    Two-thirds of the way into this book, it just fell apart completely as the romance plot completely took over. Two attractive, married people (though they don't think of themselves as attractive, but the writing proves that this just isn't so) on a beach alone together after the villain's demise... what else is there to do? Apparently, have the book lose its shit altogether from that moment to the ending.

    The ending wrapped everything up so neatly. They all lived happily ever after. The truth came out to the ones that mattered despite all the lies, and everyone is okay and they're all one big happy family. Literally. I don't have anything against HEA endings, but this just didn't fit the context of the story. However, considering how the book just fell apart and the general shaky premise, maybe it did fit the book.

    After I finished reading it, I was so disappointed. It wasn't a badly written book, which is why I can't rate it lower than 2 stars. The story is actually intriguing in parts, and the concept of the story itself isn't bad just not executed well. I also think that she mostly got it right with media feeling entitled to every piece of a story, as if their opinions are the ones that really matter. (I still found the woman doing the interview to be a bit of a caricature of the ambitious reporter herself.) I think I'm more perplexed at how such a promising start could go so absolutely wrong.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl on the Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Paula Hawkins
    • Narrated By Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23154)
    Performance
    (19253)
    Story
    (19237)

    Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

    L. O. Pardue says: ""Rear Window" Meets "Gone Girl""
    "One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Girl on the Train again? Why?

    Yes. It was an intriguing read and something that I can see myself reading again in the future.I would've finished this in one day. The only reason I didn't finish it in one sitting is because I started reading it late one evening and had to rest for work the next morning. There were so many moments when I wanted to yell at these characters to get it together. There were moments when I felt like I was sinking under their emotional turmoil. That's important. That means I'm invested in the story. Despite any complaints that I had with the story, it was a fine showing.


    Would you recommend The Girl on the Train to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would because many of them liked Gone Girl and/or thriller style books. This book has been compared to Gone Girl for its voice. I'm one of the last people on earth who hasn't read or watched Gone Girl, so I can't make any comparisons to it. However, I can say that this certainly has "Made for Movie" all over it, and it'd likely be a movie that made viewers hold their breaths in anticipation if done right. So, my friends would definitely appreciate that.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    The narration of this book was beautifully done by Clare Corbett (Rachel), Louise Brealey (Megan), and India Fisher (Anna). They prove through their strong narration that this book was made to be read. It feels more like a radio drama production rather meant for that purpose. I'm usually doing something else while I'm listening to audiobooks, but there were so many moments where I just stopped doing whatever it was I was doing completely to just listen to the story. That rarely happens to me.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl...


    Any additional comments?

    Hawkins' writing style is lyrical, haunting even, without making the story drag. I appreciated that she used these three troubled women to tell the story rather than trying to give it to us from some rational mind who would've long stopped this madness long before things got interesting. This is a riveting story that's hard to put down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Walk Up Nameless Ridge

    • UNABRIDGED (39 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (66)

    On planet Eno, there stands a mountain that has never been summited. Many have tried. All have failed. This climbing season finds three teams making their bid up this murderous peak. And one man among them will discover these ugly truths: There are fates worse than death. There are fates worse than obscurity. To be remembered forever can be its own curse.

    R. Mitchell says: "My new favorite short story."
    "A Cautionary Tale About Man's Hubris"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A group of climbers travel to a distant planet to conquer a mountain twice the size of Everest. One climber in particular aspires to glory, to being the first man to summit the largest known mountain. This story is told from his point-of-view.

    Such a lonely, cautionary, chilling (no pun intended) tale of men's arrogance and the price some people pay for such a feat while trying to convince themselves it was worthwhile. For a moment, I was a little perplexed that the story was continuing beyond the moment that I would've considered a fitting end, but as I continued, I realized that this was intentional. It was meant to take away from the character's moment of glory, even the character himself lamented his story should've ended, trying to convince himself the rest was a part of his imagination. He couldn't bear what this journey made him as a person. What glory was in this moment? None. No matter how history remembered him. There was no glory beyond that point for him. Excellent read.

    Jonathan Davis narrated this short story and he does such an excellent job as usual, even with all his sibilant "s" sounds. I actually find that endearing. He's one of my favorite narrators, and I'm glad that I decided to listen to this instead of just read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sword of Shannara: The Shannara Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs)
    • By Terry Brooks
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1949)
    Performance
    (1105)
    Story
    (1122)

    Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races.

    Nicholas says: "Finally Unabridged!"
    "Fun, entertaining read despite my rating."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Terry Brooks and/or Scott Brick?

    Yes, to both the author and the narrator. This was the first book that I've experienced by either one of them. I think Scott Brick did a fine job with the story. I probably would've rated it higher, but the nature of the story didn't really allow him to shine as a narrator in my opinion. As far as Terry Brooks goes, I found this to be too much like a "For Dummies" retelling of Lord of the Rings. Despite that, I don't think he's a terrible writer. If I'm not mistaken, this is his first book, right? I'm interested to see how he has evolved over 40 years as a writer.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I think my next listen will be the second book of David Anthony Durham's epic fantasy, The Other Lands, from his Acacia Trilogy. I listened to/read the first book at the same time as this book. Even though I had a lot of fun with this book, I enjoyed that book stylistically more than this one. Reading this was more like watching a terrible movie that you can't help but love anyway. I do plan to continue this trilogy soon, but I'd like to complete Durham's first because it's a far more compelling story for me.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Scott Brick?

    Of course! I had no problem at all with his narration. At times, I did find it a bit sterile and nondescript, but as I mentioned, I think that's more because of the nature of the book itself and not the narrator's fault.


    Do you think The Sword of Shannara needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    It's an epic adventure story set in its own world and all epic adventure stories need a follow-up. It's fun to explore more in the world the writer has created, to get an even better taste of the people, the land, the culture of the stories.


    Any additional comments?

    While I wasn't bowled over by this (I can be so wishy-washy about fantasy, especially in this vein), this was a palatable enough experience for me and fit well within my expectations for it. I had fun with it. Will I finish this trilogy? I think perhaps I will. I was entertained, and there's nothing more that I could ask for from this book. I don't need savant-like brilliance from a story to be entertained.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Haunting of Hill House

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Shirley Jackson
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (844)
    Performance
    (747)
    Story
    (755)

    Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House.

    Crystal says: "Well written horror tale"
    "In the night, in the dark..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I wouldn't recommend it to all my friends, but to the ones who like horror, I would highly recommend it. Since it's such a source of inspiration for many horror writers, it would be such a disservice as a horror fan not to experience this book. It's a deliciously poetic gothic horror that haunts the thoughts. No pun intended.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Haunting of Hill House?

    There were so many, but I'd hate to give away the surprises. I'd say the ending was perhaps one of my favorites because it leaves readers with such a sense of "What the hell happened?"


    What about Bernadette Dunne’s performance did you like?

    Her raspy reading voice helped to accentuate the creepiness of the story, but she did an excellent job creating voices and personality for the characters through her voice as well. I don’t think this would have been quite as enjoyable without her narration of the story. I loved hearing her Mrs. Dudley, who was probably the most terrifying and the funniest person in the book for me.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "No one can hear you scream, in the night, in the dark."


    Any additional comments?

    This is a ghost story, but it manages to be more than just a story that’s told around the camp fires. Jackson brought a psychological angle that makes the reader question if these things are really happening to this bunch or if it is some unexplainable shared delusion. The Haunting of Hill House is a tense story that seems to ask if the house is truly haunted or could these things have happened because the group believed in them. Would they have been faced with this same terror if they hadn’t had certain expectations about what to expect or is the house truly some primordial evil waiting and watching for victims? It’s almost as if the story is asking the reader, “What do you think… in the night… in the dark?”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tigerheart

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter David
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (14)

    Paul Dear has grown up listening to his father's tall tales of adventure, which his mother infuses with common sense. But not even his parents know that Paul spends his days chatting with pixies and other magical creatures that dwell unseen among the living. And, at night in his room, a boy beckons to Paul from the mirror to come adventuring.

    Eva Hernandez says: "Great book, awesome narration"
    "An interesting retelling of Peter Pan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this to most of my reader friends. Peter Pan is such a timeless, classic tale, and it's fun to read different interpretations on the story. Many of the readers I know appreciate seeing various writers' takes on the same story that we grew up with. It's fascinating to see what they do with such an old tale.


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

    I've listened to many performances by Simon Vance, and I have to say that he is one of my favorites. This book made me realize how consistent and talented he was with his reading whether he's narrating a historical mystery or an imaginative retelling like this this one.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It was very hard not to want to listen to this in one sitting. I usually have to be doing something while listening to audiobooks like cleaning or knitting, but this story kept me very still while I was reading it. I listened to it in large chunks at a time because it was enthralling.


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I was a little apprehensive at first that I might find it too juvenile for my tastes, but that wasn’t the case at all. Peter David managed to make this book feel like a child who is on the cusp of adulthood. It was both naïve and worldy, innocent and experienced. It was truly an amazing, whimsical story with tones of darkness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Thieftaker: Thieftaker Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By D. B. Jackson
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (255)
    Story
    (262)

    Boston, 1765: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.

    Alison says: "I wanted to like it more..."
    "A unique blend of history and fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Thieftaker?

    It’s a historical fiction, but wait, it’s also an urban fantasy set in historical Boston. Why don’t we just throw in a little alternate history to sweeten the pot? I thought this was an excellent historical urban fantasy that managed to meld the magic and history in a way that felt realistic. The magic isn’t so fantastic and in-your-face that it doesn’t mesh weld with the gritty world its set. It doesn’t feel forced or trite in contrast to its setting, which can often happens when trying to base a magical story around actual historical fact.


    What did you like best about this story?

    As a history nerd, I liked that the story is set around factual historical events. Ethan may not be real, but his profession is seeded in historical fact. Jackson uses the events leading up to the Revolutionary War as the backdrop for his story, so there are cameos by people such Samuel Adams and James Otis, Jr. The history isn’t painted with a patriotic slant, if that makes sense. Ethan considers himself a servant of the crown, but he does understand the plight of the people in the colonies. The activities of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty aren’t assumed to be correct and aren’t written to make a heart bleed red, white, and blue with all the patriotism. Instead it focuses more on the everyday man’s outlook and how it does or doesn’t affect his life.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favorite?

    Ethan, of course. One thing that I’m often guilty of is giving male characters in an urban fantasy setting the “Harry Dresden” test and making unjust comparisons. I think part of this reason is because so many male urban fantasy leads have similar qualities that make it so easy to compare and contrast (and this is true of many female urban fantasy characters, too). I didn’t do this so much with Ethan because after a while he felt like a different breed of male protagonist. His experiences, his views on his own magic, really made his character feel a bit distinct. Jonathan Davis, who recently made it to my favorite narrators list, did a wonderful job of bringing Ethan to life with his narration, so that might’ve helped my view.


    Any additional comments?

    Usually, I find with books like this that the magic feels out of place in the story, but that wasn’t a problem here. Ethan is an interesting character whose flaws run a bit deeper than a self-deprecating self-view hidden behind quirky humor.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ruth Downie
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (965)
    Performance
    (540)
    Story
    (543)

    Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on-his-luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. After a 36-hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to a moment of weakness and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner. And before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar.

    Lehua says: "Took Me by Surprise"
    "Excellent Beginning to Gaius' Adventures"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story follows military medicus (doctor) Gaius Petreius Ruso who is a Roman man living in Brittania (England). He's escaped to the Brittania to heal from a disaster of a marriage that ended in divorce and the death of his father that left the family with many undue debts to pay. Brittania is considered a backwater town but important nonetheless. It's too small to be considered grand, but too large to be ignored by the Romans. As if going from everything to having nothing wasn't bad enough, women continue to bring trouble for Ruso after he examines a dead woman found in the river and rescues a slave from her callous owner.

    This story takes place during a time when modern medicine was just beginning to emerge. Doctors were regarded as suspicious conmen and "healers" still ruled surpreme. I loved how Downie weaved that into the story, showing how doctors began to record treatment and discover new ways to deal with various medical ailments and conditions. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Ruso ushered around the new doctors in training and reveled in their naïveté after one fainted (and the others just barely made it out) when Ruso showed them a particular gruesome case. The description made me chuckle because it was just so Ruso-like.

    Ruso is a bit cynical and serious, but he does have a little bit of a dry comedic side. He's very sure of his abilities as a medicus almost to the point of cockiness, but unlike his friend and fellow medicus, Valens, he keeps to himself in a world where knowing the right people means everything. He often feels awkward in social situations and almost always says the wrong things in his mind, so he tends to keep to himself. His bedside manners are cool because he's a man of logic, even by his own admission, but Ruso cares more about people more than he shows. This care extends beyond mere medical interest, but he's not sure how to "fix" people beyond what physically ails them.

    Ruso complains that he shouldn't get involved in certain matters, but still he finds that his underlying compassion and concern causes him to do the exact opposite, which is how he ends up "investigating" a murder that he insists he's not investigating. He's also terrible at being a hard ass as shown when he became Tilla's "master." Tilla is just one of a group of ragtag friends he picks up during the course of the story which includes the charming Valens who thinks that Ruso needs a new wife, an overenthusiastic scribe named Albanus, and a dog he claims not to care for. He complains about them, of course, but I don't think he'd know what to do without them.

    Despite all the elements that could make this a complicated story to listen to, it was very easy to follow. Nothing really went beyond my grasp or caused me to pause and rewind just to make sure I was understanding what I'd heard. Downie didn't use language that was too complicated, and the things that seemed a little unfamiliar she was able to explain in the simplest terms, even when it didn't really seem necessary. However, this was a surprisingly light listen. I was afraid that I would get partway in and decide that I need to read the book rather than listen to the audiobook.

    One of the chief complaints I'd heard about this book was that the language was "too modern," but that's the usual complaint of many historical fiction settings ranging from books to television. I wasn't surprised to hear the complaint, but it just seems like old news now since many shows and books take this approach. I think that's because it makes it easier on the reader and the writer. How many people would really be interested in reading this if written in the style of that time? What writer would stick to writing a story in such a style? It would be tedious for both the reader and the writer. I agree that maybe some word choices absolutely were too modern, but that's such a nitpicky thing. However, I can only say that it doesn't bother me. Your mileage may vary.

    My chief complaint is that, while I liked Ruso, he could be a bit annoying at times. I'd get mad at him for how he tried to treat Tilla, calling her property and trying to force her to call him master, even though he was terrible at being bossy--at least to Tilla. He does show a surprising amount of sexism that can be a bit annoying, too. Not because it's sexism, however. This is ancient Rome era we're talking about. It's annoying because it's obvious that he's not as sexist as most, but has defaulted to sexism because of his general disillusionment due to a bad marriage, which is understandable but so frustrating. Some of his actions were so obtuse to the point that I had to wonder if Ruso was okay mentally at times. An example being how he wanted the rumors about him investigating the murder to stop since he "wasn't investigating," but he made it his business to ask every person around if they'd heard he was investigating the murders. Really, Ruso?

    As far as the narration goes, Simon Vance is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. He has a voice that is perfect for reading. This will be the third book I've listened to with him as the narrator and he never fails to impress me with his read. He's remarkable; his narration is always so impeccable. I have never encountered a narrator with such clean narration skills. Also, he understands that timbre not pitch determines how realistically a female voice will come across when reading, and even when faced with multiple female speakers in one scene, he gives them all their own personality that makes them easily discernible one from another.

    The only real complaint I have is that he's a fast talker. I tend to speed up my audiobooks between 1.25 to 2.0 times faster than normal. With him, I have to get used to the pace he's keeping before I can speed it up, but that's really a trivial complaint when compared to how extraordinary he is as a narrator.

    This was a great opening for the series, and I look forward to following more of Ruso's misadventures as narrated by Simon Vance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Overkill: Orphan's Legacy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Robert Buettner
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (276)
    Performance
    (206)
    Story
    (209)

    At 23, Jazen Parker has completed his Legion hitch a hero. But in four months, hell have a price on his head. Worse, hes lost his past, and he cant find his future. Worst of all, hes chosen to search for them on the deadliest planet known to mankind. When Jazen reluctantly hires on to a Trueborn Earthman tycoon's safari to bag a deadly trophy, the reluctant mercenary finds himself shipped out to Downgraded Earthlinke 476, the outpost at the end of the universe known to everyone except its tourism bureau as "Dead End".

    Readalot says: "Excellent first contact story"
    "A surprisingly intriguing military sci-fi story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I originally bought the book as an impulse buy from Audible because they kept taunting me with a deal on certain books. This was one of those books whose description was written in a way to capture the reader's attention while still managing to be vaguely suspicious. I wasn't sure if I liked the cover (recovering cover snob that I am), but I decided to give this a try, even if my brain did try to tell me that this was probably going to be Space Rambo. However, since this was my science fiction month and I wanted to round out my selection and adding to the fact that the reviews were mostly favorable, I decided to give it a chance. Surprisingly, it was an interesting listen.

    Twenty three year old Jazen Parker agrees to go to a planet known colloquially as "Dead End" with a rich tycoon to hunt one of the deadliest animals in the universe. The payout from this job will help Parker to get a new identity and start his life anew without the threat of the former mercenary group he worked for since he was a teen or the bounty hunters who want to take him back to his home planet to answer for his "crime." He was born illegally on his home planet, and even though that wasn't his fault, he can still be punished for his parents' crime.

    It's really hard to talk about this book without spoiling most of it. You think you're going into the book just getting a straightforward sci-fi military story with lots of action, and you do get that. However, you also get a well crafted sci-fi story that won't allow itself to be shoehorned into just another shoot-em-up story. This story explores human nature and the similarities and differences that could exist between two intelligent races by giving us chapters from the alien's point of view. He finds much of human behavior complex and needless. His own race is at an apex where they are absolutely on top of the food chain on their home planet and don't need many of the behaviors that humans possess. The longer he travels with his human companions the more he learns about things such as empathy and sacrifice, notions he doesn't have in his own culture because individuals in his race live solitary lives. They're firm believers in allowing an individual to meet his destiny alone.

    We also learn more about this other race in the process. We learn about their loose society structure and how they've managed to thwart genocide by humans by pretending to be dumb creatures. As stated in the book: "Overall the human species tolerated dangers in nature. What they did not tolerate were rivals." Even though they know they are more intelligent and capable than humans. Humans possess knowledge and skills that make them very dangerous, especially to a territorial, solitary species like his where teamwork is downright disrespectful because it means encroaching on each other’s boundaries. However solitary they are, there is a thread of unity between them, a way they exchange knowledge, history, and ideas among themselves. They're stubborn about their worldview being the only view and humans are obviously delusional in their opinion until circumstances causes one of them to embark on a pivotal journey.

    Humans in this book have conquered most of the known galaxy, becoming so numerous on some planets that it's a crime to reproduce without consent. (And I don't really understand why Parkers parent traveled to a planet where it's a criminal offense to have Parker, but maybe they had no other choice.) It's even mentioned that they have destroyed other intelligent species after being given resources they needed and have turned back to warring against each other, but with more dire consequences (such as slavery, even though it's supposedly humane, is a fate for the conquered). Humans are detached from earth, most having never seen earth and know little of its history.

    Humans not knowing about their history, even if they've never laid eyes on earth, pains me. Parker will sometimes gripe about how trueborns think earth is the cultural apex of the universe and how names like George Washington mean nothing to him. While I can understand the sentiment, there are no other cultures present since it seems that humans have wiped out any other intelligent species, and the culture Parker complains about is the same culture who opened up the universe to humans. Just as Parker’s home world should be just as important to trueborns because it the collective history of humanity. Why wouldn't the history of earth and humans be some kind of required reading? I'm over thinking this thing.

    I didn't know if I was going to enjoy the narrator at first, but he did very well and I think his characterization of Parker is what really stood out to me. He really made him feel distinct and alive for me. He managed to capture the youth and battle weary aspects of Parker's personality. Parker is young and naive about many things outside of battle like women, but he's seen so much war and death as a legionnaire. And MacCleod Andrews did a great job of capturing that.

    This was an excellent story. There were a few parts that seemed kind of mystifying (Parker's parents' decision on where to have him) and parts that seemed to be quickly cobbled to the story as it neared its end. However, Buettner is knowledgeable about military and made it work in a way that isn't overwhelming for readers. He also knows how to make characters engaging, and I thought more than once he'd probably be a great writer for the Mass Effect series. I'll be moving on to book two in this series soon, hopeful that some mysteries remaining are solved.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Fool Moon: The Dresden Files, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By James Marsters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9549)
    Performance
    (7452)
    Story
    (7426)

    Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is Chicago's only openly practicing wizard. He is also dead broke. His vast knowledge and magical skills are unfortunately matched by his talent for making powerful enemies and alienating friends. With little more than his integrity left, he accepts an offer of work from Lt. Karin Murphy of Chicago's Special Investigations Unit. He wants to redeem himself in Murphy's eyes and make enough money to quiet his rumbling stomach.

    pterion says: "I'm liking Harry more and more"
    "This engaged me more than I thought it would"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The second book in The Dresden Files takes place a bit after the events in Storm Front. After business slows down resulting in Harry taking some odd magical jobs here and there, Karrin Murphy contacts Harry for his help on a murder case. She takes him to a crime scene where one of Marcone's men has been brutally murdered and strange paw prints are left at the scene. Add the fact similar murders have been taking place during and around the full moon for a few months, and you have a formula.

    I've read the first book twice now, and even though I liked it, I hadn't ventured any further in the series until now. I just get so bogged down with other books I want to read. I had to work out of town for two days, and I figured this would be the perfect read for my trip since I wouldn't be able to do much book reading. I try not to listen to anything too heavy and this was the perfect audio book with it's fast, easy pace. I found myself quickly caught up in the story.

    I thought Butcher's take on werewolves was refreshing, especially how he used "lycanthropes," who aren't really werewolves, but people born with the ability to tap into the spirit of rage. When they are under the power of the spirit, they are more aggressive, stronger, and they heal quickly. His four definitions of werewolves in the story gives them real weaknesses and strengths (other than the silver bullet bit, but it comes into play as well) with the werewolves we typically think of, called loup-garou, not being as common in Harry's world as the other three types.

    And Harry, good ol' self-deprecating Harry. He had me arguing with him so much in this book. His sense of heroic honor seems to make him do the dumbest things and aptly illustrates the point in one of my favorite quotes about just how much dumb luck the good guys have. I'm sure I would've been much more annoyed with him if I'd been reading this instead of listening to it because I would've spent a ridiculous amount of time rereading and trying to make sense out of the Harry's madness.

    Regardless, I can't help but like the guy, even when I wish I could reach my hands into the book and throttle him while screaming, "Why would you do that?" That means I care about the character. It's only the characters I don't want to suffer so much that I argue with. But I do have to give him credit for the really ingenious things he did do during the course of this story. Also, he half quoted Spider-Man when he went on his "Knowledge is Power. And Power comes with responsibility!" rant. How can I hate a man like that?

    Also, I'm glad that Harry was able to understand that he shouldn't withhold information about the supernatural from people like Murphy. They need that information to have a fighting chance. It's not enough to say, "It's dangerous," and leave it at that, especially when Murphy's job is to deal with the unknown. They may not use this information as intended, but he would be giving them the knowledge they need to try to stay alive. I'm not saying that he should spill everything he knows. He knows what's pertinent and what's not. How can he expect anyone, such as Murphy, to truly understand the gravity of the supernatural when he is only giving them half-information?

    James Marsters is a wonderful narrator. True, I did balk a little at first, and I'm sorry for that. I was one of those people who got into the series because of the old Syfy show, and it's pretty much branded into my mind that Harry is Paul Blackthorne. Marsters really brought the characters to life for me after we crossed that Blackthorne hurdle. He did his best to give each character a distinct personality and a distinct sound, even the women. I loved the voice, the clipped, immaculate pronunciation, he used for Tera. It was like someone who learned English as a second language and still doesn't understand all the nuances of the English, which I guess that would describe Tera to a "T." I love his Murphy as well.

    I heard one glaring mistake, though. When the lycanthropes captured Harry, during that moment when he was goading Parker, he called Parker by Marcone's name. It wasn't dialogue, just Harry's narrating/thinking part. He said, "Instead Marcone spun in his heel, picked up a tire iron, and turned back to me..." He meant Parker spun on his heel. Marcone hadn't even showed up yet at this point. But overall, Marsters' narrating pretty much made this story for me. I've already decided that I'll listen to the rest of the series, except for the book he didn't narrate.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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