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John M

Lafayette, CA USA | Member Since 2007

ratings
193
REVIEWS
44
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
9
HELPFUL VOTES
323

  • The Hot Gate: Troy Rising, Book Three

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By John Ringo
    • Narrated By Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1387)
    Performance
    (1064)
    Story
    (1088)

    The fight to free the Earth from alien domination began in Live Free or Die, and continued in Citadel. Now Tyler Vernon and his troops aboard the gigantic battle station Troy face a desperate battle with the forces of galactic tyranny. And the very survival of the Earth and its people is not all that is at stake. The galaxy itself must choose to live free or die - and if the tyrants win this battle, darkness will fall across the galaxy for millennia to come.

    John M says: "Huh?"
    "Huh?"
    Overall

    The last 20% of the book is very exciting but I'm not sure it is worth the buildup. There seemed to be two (or three?) very disjointed stories within this book and only one of them is interesting. The first story dealt with "Comet" Parker, a very interesting powerful female character dealing with working in a macho Latin American environment. OK, that could have been fairly interesting for a chapter or two, but it goes on and on and on and (amazingly enough) doesn't really reach any sort of satisfying conclusion.
    The second story is the massive space battle seems to just happen toward the end of the book and Comet and her storyline mostly fades away. During the battle the story shifts abruptly to Butch, the space welder introduced in prior books, for a bit and then... ends.

    I enjoyed the first two books enough that I am OK that I listened to this one and will certainly try out the fourth book - I assume there will be at least one more book as this in no way wrapped up a trilogy.

    The narration continues to be first rate and made it OK to just exist in Ringo's universe for a while, but I think one more strike and I might need to close this "gate."

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • 1356: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Jack Hawkins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (394)
    Performance
    (351)
    Story
    (354)

    On September 19, 1356, a heavily outnumbered English army faced off against the French in the historic Battle of Poitiers. In 1356, Cornwell resurrects this dramatic and bloody struggle - one that would turn out to be the most decisive and improbable victory of the Hundred Years' War, a clash where the underdog English not only the captured the strategic site of Poitiers, but the French King John II as well.

    Amazon Customer says: "A Classic Story Comes To Life"
    "Only so-so for a Bernard Cornwell Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First off, I am a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. I have read/listened to all the Sharpe books, the Copperhead books, Winter King series, and many others. But for some reason 1356 seemed uninspired, especially compared with Agincourt, which I just re-listened to in anticipation of this book. Very similar eras, but character development, social history, and a compelling storyline all seemed better in Agincourt. And the narrator for 1356 didn't seem well suited to the role. His English accent was nice, but he sounded congested much of the time and I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters.

    Bottom line - if you like the Grail Quest series and want to see how Thomas of Hookton has progressed, you should give it a listen. Looking for a great medieval historical novel? Check out Agincourt and give 1356 a pass.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joe Ledger: Special Ops

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Jonathan Maberry
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (179)
    Performance
    (170)
    Story
    (171)

    Captain Joe Ledger - former cop, former Army Ranger, and currently the top-kick of Echo Team, an elite squad of first-class shooters who roll out to face down the world's most dangerous terrorists. Not fanatics with explosive vests or political hostage takers. Joe and his team square off against terrorists who have the most advanced and exotic weapons of mass destruction, designer bioweapons, cutting-edge transgenics…real mad-scientist stuff.

    Tracy says: "If you have already read Missing Files"
    "A great way to get your Joe Ledger fix!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is a series of short stories that take place in timelines around those featured in the novels. While not required, I think these stories are best enjoyed once you have finished all the main novels. There are some "spoilers" in the short stories when the characters refer to events that happened at the conclusions of the different novels.

    Even though the book consists of stand-alone stories, there is some context-setting at the beginning of each that explains when/where each one takes place.

    Each story is substantial enough to be enjoyed in its own right. It actually felt similar to a regular Joe Ledger novel since those tend to be a series of action-packed episodes back to back anyway.

    To me, it was every bit as enjoyable as any of the other novels, which means it was a rocking 5-star listen.

    And there is an awesome bonus story at the end. An interview between Jonathan Maberry (the author) and Ray Porter (the narrator). It offers really terrific insight into how Ray goes about preparing for and recording the novels. It is also clear that Jonathan is as big a Ray Porter fan as I am! Worth the price of a credit all by itself. Enjoy!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • World War II: A Military and Social History

    • ORIGINAL (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Thomas Childers
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (37)

    Between 1937 and 1945, approximately 55 million people perished in the series of interrelated conflicts known as the Second World War. No continent was left untouched, no ocean unaffected. The war led to the eclipse of Europe and the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers; ushered in the atomic age; produced, in the Holocaust, the most horrific crime ever committed in the history of Western civilization, and led to the end of Europe's colonial empires around the world.

    John M says: "My favorite Great Courses lecture"
    "My favorite Great Courses lecture"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have listened to dozens of "courses" from the Teaching Company over the years and this is one of the best. It was done a while ago but it still very worthwhile. What a treat to be able to listen to it via Audible. Professor Childers is an excellent lecturer and great storyteller who has an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. It is titled "a Military and Social History" but know if that it is about 80% military and 20% social. I wish there would have been more social or political context but I wouldn't have traded any of the military side - they should have just added additional lectures and I would have been quite happy.

    Prof. Childers does a remarkable job telling the story of this literally global catastrophe that is very easy to follow. It is hard to imagine a traditional book brought to audio that could accomplish the same feat.

    This was my first teaching company lecture series I ever listened to (over 10 years ago) and at that time I had only a cursory understanding of WWII. In the intervening years I have been an enthusiastic student of all things WWII and have read at least 15 books on various aspects of the conflict and visited numerous sites/monuments. So I can honestly say the lecture will be equally enjoyable whether you are new to the subject or you are familiar with it. Prepare for time well spent.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Godfather

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Mario Puzo
    • Narrated By Joe Mantegna
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (508)
    Performance
    (464)
    Story
    (465)

    More than 40 years ago, Mario Puzo wrote his iconic portrait of the Mafia underworld as told through the fictional first family of American crime, the Corleones. The leader, Vito Corleone, is the Godfather. He is a benevolent despot who stops at nothing to gain and hold power. His command post is a fortress on Long Island from which he presides over a vast underground empire that includes the rackets, gambling, bookmaking, and unions. His influence runs through all levels of American society, from the cop on the beat to the nation's mighty.

    Dana says: "Huge fan of the movie, loved this audiobook!"
    "Great book - better than the movie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am probably in the minority that hadn't seen the movie prior to listening to the audiobook. But I did like the audiobook so much I then sat down and watched the movie. It is remarkable how closely the movie adhered to the book - but as with all great books it is hard for any movie to compare with one's imagination properly inspired.

    The book was very enjoyable and the performance was very well done. Women's voices weren't that great, but there are relatively few female characters in the story and it was certainly good enough.

    The book also fills in so many (unavoidable) holes in the movie I can't imagine any Godfather movie fan not thoroughly enjoying revisiting their favorite mafia family again.

    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • War and Remembrance

    • UNABRIDGED (56 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    Overall
    (1811)
    Performance
    (1527)
    Story
    (1514)

    Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues here in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

    aaron says: "What can I say that hasn't already been said??"
    "Epic! A True Masterpiece"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to War and Remembrance again? Why?

    Absolutely. It was a remarkable story brought to life by an amazing narrator. It seemed at the same time unhurried but relentless. This must be listened to after "Winds of War" so together it is a 100+ hour commitment, but it was tremendous. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about WWII and I learned a great deal about the conflict through that most ancient of human skills: storytelling. I look forward to listening to it again.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way the narrative shifted between the different viewpoints - from a "God's Eye" view of the progress of the war to the more myopic German perspective to the personal American and Jewish experience. In hindsight it really is the only way to tell such a grand and terrible story.


    What does Kevin Pariseau bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His command of accents and cadence is amazing. He was always clear and easy to understand but it really put you in the thick of the action.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to this book. It is well worth your time. In this age where we are losing 1000's of WWII vets every day this is perhaps one of the best ways to connect to that time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Passage: The Passage Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Justin Cronin
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Adenrele Ojo, Abby Craden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6865)
    Performance
    (3234)
    Story
    (3239)

    First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

    Nicole says: "You love it or you hate it..."
    "Epic Story - very enjoyable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Passage was a great read and to me they felt like some of Stephen King's longer works. There is certainly a horror-ish element to it and some fairly intense action sequences, but at the same time it feels unhurried and Scott Brick's terrific narration adds to that feeling. There is a pretty diverse and wide cast of characters but most of them add nicely to the story's mosaic - sometimes in surprising ways.

    Do note that there are jumps in both timeline and perspective of the storyteller (including a couple of alternate narrators) but it works out well, adds to the story, and is not hard to follow.

    Overall I found the story every exciting and unpredictable and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read. Yep, there may be "vampire-ish" elements to it, but they are much more Stephen King than Stephanie Meyer.

    This is actually my second time through the book (in preparation to enjoy the sequel, The Twelve). I loved it the first time but I think the second time may have been better as you can see how seemingly innocuous events early in the story really play out. Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Alfred Lansing
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1891)
    Performance
    (1246)
    Story
    (1250)

    In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

    russell says: "Endurance"
    "Spellbinding!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly loved this book. I don't normally seek out these "true-life adventures" but the other reviews were so positive that I decided to give it a try. It was absolutely tremendous. It was so unbelievable that no one would even think of putting half of the things that happened into a novel. I literally spent every night during the time period I was listening to this book reflecting about the trials and tribulations of the men of the Endurance and wondering how I would do in similar circumstances. It was a profoundly emotional experience with this book.

    The writing is quite good and the narrator keeps the story moving along while keeping the "you are there" sense of the book.

    I highly recommend this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Hot Rock: The First Dortmunder Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Donald E. Westlake
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (174)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (119)

    John Dortmunder and company are hired by an U.N. African Ambassador to steal the famed Balabomo Emerald from the hands of a rival African country. But their daring and clever burglarly goes awry, and the emerald slips through their fingers. Undaunted, Dortmunder chases the gem by plane, train and automobile in hot pursuit of the hot rock.

    William says: "Dortmunder is on his game in this fun introduction"
    "Just didn't work for me at all"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was looking forward to this book quite a bit. I love a good series and one focusing on clever wise-cracking criminals could be great (Ocean's 11 anyone?) and it had really great reviews.

    AND this is the first of a long series and it was written back in 1970, so you have to give it some slack. But not this much slack. The dialog was inane and repetitive and the "capers" weren't even all that great. I think if you read this many years ago (or saw the movie) there would be some fun revisiting it in audio form, but coming in new I didn't have that basis so I just took it on its own terms. Even though the book was pretty short it seemed much longer to me (but to be fair, I did want to see how it turned out).

    Bottom line is that if you have fond memories of the book or the movie from decades ago you will probably love it. If not, maybe skip ahead to some of the more recent books in the series and see what you find.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10600)
    Performance
    (9620)
    Story
    (9640)

    There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

    Magpie says: "Super solid listen!!"
    "Yes! What a Great Surprise."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved this book. I listen to a lot of audio books and only a few have me eagerly anticipating my commute so I could continue the story and this was one of them. It moves along briskly. The story is fun, a bit scary, and the characters are interesting and actually evolve as the plot progresses. It is self-aware but still makes you cheer for the heroes. I really enjoyed how the spookiness and intensity grew chapter by chapter by chapter. I kept thinking this would make a great movie, but given how often movies utterly fail at depicting the right mood I think I will have to be satisfied with the book. Enjoy!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Talisman

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs)
    • By Stephen King, Peter Straub
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3546)
    Performance
    (1604)
    Story
    (1612)

    On a brisk autumn day, a 13-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: His father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America - and into another realm. One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery.

    Swad says: "Still Good"
    "Needs an Abridged Version, Please!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a long-time Stephen King fan and generally love his longer books (I would have been very happy if The Stand, It, and even the Dark Tower series could have all been longer). I hate abridged books and only ever get them if I really want to "read" the book and there isn't an unabridged alternative. Despite both points, this book really could have been 40% shorter and not have lost anything in the translation. It seems much longer than it needs to because the descriptive passages drag on until they seem more like creative writing exercises than adding to the tapestry of the narrative, and, as other reviewers have noted, characters seem to say the same point over and over again - we get it after the 3rd or 4th time!

    Ironically, even with the dragging out of most scenes, I was still left wanting to learn more about other areas of the book that didn't seem sufficiently explored - e.g. more background on the "Territories" and how it really did intersect with our world.

    Even though I thought about stopping 5 or 6 times, I finished it and was rewarded with a thoroughly predictable ending. It wasn't bad, necessarily, just about average, which is OK but not what I look for in Stephen King (maybe it was Peter Straub's influence? No idea)

    One of the saving graces to me was the narration of Frank Muller. I know other reviewers have knocked the narration but I really liked it and his ability to have distinct voices for all the characters kept the book going for me.

    So if you are a Stephen King fan and want to experience all his works, then go ahead by all means - it is still better than most books out there today. Just don't compare it to King's top books and you will be just fine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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