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neil

FORT PIERCE, FL, United States | Member Since 2008

212
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 37 reviews
  • 135 ratings
  • 603 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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11

  • Blue Remembered Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (195)
    Performance
    (179)
    Story
    (178)

    Critically acclaimed author Alastair Reynolds holds a well-deserved place “among the leaders of the hard-science space opera renaissance." (Publishers Weekly). In Blue Remembered Earth, Geoffrey Akinya wants nothing more than to study the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But when his space-explorer grandmother dies, secrets come to light and Geoffrey is dispatched to the Moon to protect the family name - and prevent an impending catastrophe.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "A surprising and staisfying departure for Reynolds"
    "Politically Correct"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read most of what Allistair Reynolds has published...some more than once.
    I've rated him as one of the best hard core SF writers ever. His major characters are often "different". Heroes and villains are as likely to be female as male with various
    degrees of sex, color, species differences and artifacts often added on. Even as truly different as some of his main characters were, I have never before gotten the impression that he was forcing them into being politically correct stereotypes. That is the impression I get in this novel.
    The good guys, male and female, (almost too good to be true, in some cases) are African and black sounding, or clearly homosexual with contemporary nilistic outlooks while the bad guys are made to sound like mostly white, male Afrikaners and and are comletely contemptible, evil, money grubbers. The heroic types seem motivated only by a one dimensional need to do "good" (as defined by contemporary standards like ...save the elephants...for instance).
    Of course, in their quest to do these good deeds, the author does not bind them to
    to any special respect for preexisting norms and rules that get in their way, except those imposed by the villains. Both sides are also very rich, which seems to be, in a almost
    contradictory fashion, a perfectly acceptable reason to allow them to do what they please.
    As I've said, I can enjoy heroes and villains, any sex, any color, any background...if
    the writer can make me believe that they are real "human beings" even if that
    isn't exactly what they are. Reynold's has done that very thing with pigs, among a number of other not so human creatures, in some of his other works. Their human attributes...good and bad and neither...seemed not only richly complex but to be natural parts of their nature.
    The problem with this novel for me is that the characters in these pages are caricatures of politically correct stereotypes. That makes it impossible to care about
    what they seem to care about. And what they care about, of course, drives the whole story. John Lee does a good job with the narration, as usual.
    Overall, this is not a Reynold's novel I would consider reading a second time.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Infinite Jest

    • UNABRIDGED (56 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By David Foster Wallace
    • Narrated By Sean Pratt
    Overall
    (341)
    Performance
    (298)
    Story
    (297)

    A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.

    Darwin8u says: "Removing Endnotes Does NOT Equal Unabridged!"
    "Great Writing/Wonderful Story Telling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "The Pale King" was my first exposure to the writing of David Foster Wallace and I liked it.
    Most reviews of "Infinite Jest" on Audible complained a great deal about not having the "footnotes", several claiming that, without them, the book was not worth listening to. But, I took a shot, anyway. And I was blown away. Sean Pratt's narration may have been the key to my enjoyment. His delivery made music of Wallace's words. Of course, the plot wanders and the characters are multitude and their narratives come flying abruptly out of left field and it seems like no plot thread is ever tied up, ever. And, It takes some time and mental gymnastics to see the fabric of the story(s). But the overall effect, for me, was brilliant. In this case, an American masterpiece of the spoken word. As good a collaboration of author and narrator is I've ever heard. It ended far too soon. I don't know if I would have been able to read it and feel the same. .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Absurdistan

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Adam Grupper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    Named as one of the New York Times Year’s Ten Best upon its publication, Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan is a biting, poignant satire of American-style democracy and the American Dream. After returning to Russia to attend his father’s funeral, 30-year-old Misha is subsequently denied a visa when he attempts to re-enter the United States.

    neil says: "Major Let Down"
    "Major Let Down"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought Shteyngart was brilliant after listening to "Super Sad, True Love Story". My opinion dipped slightly with "The Russian Debutante's Handbook", but it was still pretty good. "Absurdistan", however, was just awful. Drifting plots and meandering story lines are fine with me if the writing is good, and the characters are "real", even if they are hard to love. This novel had neither good writing or interesting human beings as characters...forget liking them. If the author aimed for satire, he missed. But for a few neatly twisted phrases that brought a smile to my lips...very few... there was nothing funny...for me. Its saving grace, if anything can save it, was that it seemed fairly original. I managed to get through it , because of that quality, I think. And the narrator did a good job with what he had.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redemption: Department Q, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (39)

    The downloadable, digital audiobook edition of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s sensational new thriller, read by the actor Steven Pacey. Two boys, brothers, wake tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Their kidnapper has gone, but soon he will return. Their bonds are inescapable. But there is a bottle and tar to seal it. Paper and a splinter for writing; blood for ink. A message begging for help. In Copenhagen’s cold cases division Carl Morck has received a bottle. It holds an old and decayed message, written in blood.

    Peter says: "Wrong Book!?!?"
    "Jussi and Steven...Pacey Makes Another Winning Duo"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book, by itself, is a very good good thriller. I kind of like European settings for thrillers and mysteries...especially northern and eastern Europe where winter bleak gives the mystery an icy edge. This is the 2nd Adler/Olsen Dept. Q book I've heard from Audible.
    For plot, great. For characterization...great. Even though it is about that highly overdone bogeyman...the serial killer...(I usually refuse to bother with most novels employing this device) this author actually made the story fresh and imaginative and did a masterful job of varying the pace of the plot, throwing in wit with bits and pieces of the more mundane human comedy. I have developed a wariness committing my time to reading "follow up" novels written as part of series. Each story, I think,must stand on its own merit. Adler-Olsen is +2 for 2, in my opinion.
    I first heard Steven Pacey reading Joe Abercombie's "First Law" trilogy. He made all three books come alive. His narration makes me feel like the child I used to be who sat in front of the old console radio with his whole attention riveted on "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon" or the stories told on the "Buster Brown Show" every Saturday morning From those voice(s) a kid could imagine worlds he or she never "saw". Mr. Pacey has that gift of being able to inspire one's imagination in that way, too, I think. At least for me. Like with Abercrombie's works, Mr. Pacey's narration enhances the entertainment value of this book, immensely. Having written that, I must add that the entertainment value of the novel, itself, is quite high.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Ali Ahn, Adam Grupper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (505)
    Performance
    (254)
    Story
    (254)

    Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, creates a compelling reality in this tale about an illiterate America in the not-too-distant future. Lenny Abramov may just be penning the world’s last diary. Which is good, because while falling in love with a rather unpleasant woman and witnessing the fall of a great empire, Lenny has a lot to write about.

    Ryan says: "Dystopia Now"
    "Interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While not the best novel I've ever come across, it, having been well written and decidedly entertaining...I did want to know what happened next... also left me with things to ponder. I doubt that this novel is "art" in the common parlance. Probably not a "classic" either. But it has strong elements of both, in my opinion, I think some people might refer to this kind of novel as dystopic futurism or pessimistic science fiction. Use either category and I'd put it in the 90th percentile along with the "The 4 Fingers of Death". But it also has much in common with a book like "I Am Charlotte Simmons" by Tom Wolfe which is neither futuristic nor science fiction.
    The readers were both first rate. They filled out the parts of the main characters superbly
    and with feeling. I could feel the angst.
    I agree with some readers who've said that they had difficulty in "liking" the main characters, especially Lenny. But Lenny truly fits the profile of the classic protagonist...hubris and all.
    He wants to be the contemporary knight on a white horse, the rescuer of beautiful (his definition) damsels in distress But when he sweeps up the lovely but abused and misunderstood fair lady, and gives all he has to give, like most of his kind, he ends up being humiliated and betrayed by the damsel and defecated upon by the horse. Nor was Eunice particularly endearing ... but she was true to herself, making hard choices based solely on her perception of her own self interest.
    The author's canvas, the background for this love story, was very recognizable, unfortunately, as one likely path this country's citizens might very well choose.. And he did a very, very good job of "painting" it. I couldn't look away from it very easily.
    Not suited for everyone's taste, especially those offended by foul language and frequent casual, concrete references to the amazing growth and evolution of the "pornography" business. Nevertheless, I thought it was a fine listen and would highly recommend it to fans of this kind of literature.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Great North Road

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By Toby Longworth
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (756)
    Performance
    (682)
    Story
    (687)

    A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family - composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone "brothers" have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies. Or maybe not so friendly....

    Flapjack says: "Get the Timeline and Cast of Characters"
    "Ultimately, disappointing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This novel had lots of potential...suspense, good imagining, nice snaky plot and, starting off, at least, characters whose actions seemed to stem from natural human motives. Some pretty original sounding stuff, to boot.
    Its a long, long listen. So when the intricacies start beginning to resolve, one has put in
    a lot of hours of involved listening. I was waiting, almost eagerly, to get to the end stages.
    About halfway through, the author began throwing in junk but not enough to make me stop. By the last third, it all went south. What I seemed to end up with was pure, trite, drivel... a) another boring ecological lecture about humanity's unrelenting destruction of nature,, b) another female super hero who beats up the monster with ninja style moves c) the main protagonist, female, who changes from a complete uber rich, selfish, dishonest, decietful, sociopath (fairly interesting) into ...someone else whose loving, brave, hard working, selfless soul must have been transplanted secretly without the reader's knowledge because any reader will be hard put to figure out how she ended up with it, much less whether the story ever made clear why she deserved it. d) most males except for the uber rich ones and one cop are mostly depicted as basically dumb, simple and incompetent, who play only one note...sex..and e) an ending more reminiscent of "Its A Wonderful Life" than any decent sci fi I've come across. Overall, although I have read or listened to several books by this author and found one or two good ones, (so I believe the author has some skill), this one ends up being an ode to political correctness and easy fixes. I found it both disappointing and dishonest. Fortunately, the reader was very good or I would have ditched the thing 2/3s of the way through.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By John Irving
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3190)
    Performance
    (2157)
    Story
    (2159)

    Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

    Alan says: "Outstanding"
    "Offbeat Gem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Worth every minute of the time I spent listening to it. It isn't likely that I would have picked it up and read it, but since Joe Barrett was narrating and the description and many of the reviews piqued my interest. I decided to get the Audible version. Made a great choice, this time. Maybe it helped that I am a native of small town New England, myself or that the
    two main protagonists are within a year or two of being my age. Also the "major"
    events that affected them, affected me, as well. The novel was a sort of personal homecoming. But, besides those elements, Irving seems to be a very good writer who
    knows how to keep a reader involved in his work for hours and hours. Nor does
    he ever disappoint with sloppy transitions, simpleton characters or artificial plot
    contrivances. Not that some of his ideas don't stretch things more than a bit. But he
    always manages to pull these bits off very nicely. How he tells the reader what happens
    at the end before the book is halfway through and still manages to keep one in total
    suspense is absolutely masterly. And Joe Barret is one of, if not the best American narrator I've ever heard. (Try "Streets of Loredo" by Larry McMurtry for another great
    Joe Barrett narration.)
    This novel will not be universally appreciated, I believe. But I thought it was
    excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Armor

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By John Steakley
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    Overall
    (975)
    Performance
    (595)
    Story
    (600)

    The planet is called Banshee. The air is unbreathable, the water poisonous. It is the home of the most implacable enemies that humanity, in all its interstellar expansion, has ever encountered. Felix is a scout in A-team Two. Highly competent, he is the sole survivor of mission after mission. Yet he is a man consumed by fear and hatred.

    George Dean says: "An intense and unusual work, wonderfully performed"
    "Bad Writing, Period."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like some others, first part was ok and fast moving...nice light read (listen) for washing the kitchen floor or peeling potatoes. Maybe the end turned out as well. I couldn't tell you because the introduction of the second, inane plot and the adolescent writing was too much for these old ears...Tom Weiner's narration nowithstanding (he did the best with what he had)....and I gave it up. By the way, if you want to see how to do a competent "intro of a new plot right out of left field after a story line has already been established", read :"The Five Fingers of Death". Several other reviewers have already written about why this book is so very bad. I will only add that my own disappointment was compounded because this book actually started out ok and I had gotten into it by several hours before the switch.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Heroes

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Joe Abercrombie
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (893)
    Performance
    (695)
    Story
    (702)

    They say Black Dow has killed more men than winter and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand by smiling while Black Dow claws his way any higher. The orders have been given, and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

    Matt Carothers says: "Thank you, Joe Abercrombie!"
    "Another Winner From Joe Abercrombie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another "chapter" from the world of Joe Abercrombie and a good one. I consider that
    this guy is better at this kind of writing than anyone else, including the more
    popular and alleged "masters" of this genre like George RR Martin. However, Michael
    Page is not a favorite of mine, Brit or not. I tire of his narration rather quickly. If
    Steven Pacey had read it...as he read the first 4 of Abercrombie's novels set
    in this world, I would have undoubtedly given it 5 stars.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • JR

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By William Gaddis
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (36)

    Absurdly logical, mercilessly real, gathering it's own tumultuous momentum for the ultimate brush with commodity training, JR captures the listener in the cacophony of voices that revolves around this young captive of his own myths. The disturbing clarity with which this finished writer captures the ways in which we deal, dissemble, and stumble through our words - through our lives - while the real plans are being made elsewhere makes JR the extraordinary novel that it is.

    Peregrine says: "Possibly superior as an audio book"
    "This Is Good Stuff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first example of "literature as an art form"
    writing that I can ever remember actually enjoying. And I really, really liked this. I never came across anything quite like it, before. And just how much the narrator was
    responsible for how much I liked it...maybe more than 50%. Nick Sullivan truly
    deserves the word "incredible" to describe how he carries this story from start to
    finish. I've never heard of or read William Gaddis before listening to Mr. Sullivan
    doing "JR". By this reading, Gaddis seems like a giant of American letters, a
    genuine master artist of the written word.
    If you insist on straightforward plotting and rapid pace...forget it. The work is looong
    and meanders along routes that don't appear on any literary maps. But it does move
    along. Its sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes pessimistic, sometimes
    uplifting...but for me, it was never dull. Mr. Gaddis and Mr. Sullivan combine to
    produce as honest and entertaining a picture of the American dream as I've ever read.
    Or heard.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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