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David

Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

Houston, TX, United States | Member Since 2008

1012
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 140 reviews
  • 447 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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11
FOLLOWERS
274

  • The Butcher's Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Thomas Perry
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (521)
    Performance
    (318)
    Story
    (313)

    Thomas Perry's Edgar Award-winning debut novel follows a professional hitman on the run from both the mafia and the government.

    richard says: "A writer with extreme talents."
    "Dated and inaccurate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had been looking forward to listening to this book on the strength of its reputation and reviews but found it sadly disappointing. It is badly dated and strains credibility repeatedly. Even thirty years ago when the book was written the answer to the door lock of a quality hotel was not a quick trick with a credit card. Curare administered orally is harmless and therefore useless as a murder weapon. People who have never ridden a horse do not jump on the bare back of a thoroughbred in the dark and, clinging only to its mane, jump two fences and escape across a wintery landscape at a full gallop. In addition, time after time twists in the plot were entirely predictable.

    Michael Kramer does a nice job with the narration and my distaste for giving up on a book before finishing carried me through to the end, but I would not recommend "The Butcher's Boy" to a friend.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Terminal World

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (532)
    Performance
    (298)
    Story
    (301)

    Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size. Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different---and rigidly enforced---level of technology. Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue.

    Michael says: "Worthwhile slightly lacking"
    "Interesting world, unsatisfying central character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reynolds always constructs extraordinarily intricate and ultimately logical worlds, and his central characters are usually fully drawn and complex as well. In this instance he nailed the world building but presented us with a leading character who is limp and unsatisfying. Always the thoroughgoing altruist and nearly terminally naive, he wanders along, captive to the plot throughout, functioning primarily as a conduit for information between the various factions with whom he interacts. He is so passive that he is hard to believe as a survivor. It is not the poor sap's fault since the author keeps him restricted and controlled throughout the entire book, but looking back on it I realize just how sick of him I was by the end.

    There were secondary characters who were more dynamic and with whom readers would happily throw in their lot if given a chance, but they never emerged from their supporting roles. Did someone say there will be a series? If so, perhaps the interesting world and the situation in which we are left hanging at the end of the book will provide a stage for giving one or more of the other personae the room to strike out on their own and give us someone to relate to and invest in. That could be worth a credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Raising Steam: The Discworld Series, Book 40

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Stephen Briggs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (264)
    Performance
    (242)
    Story
    (241)

    The new Discworld novel, the 40th in the series, sees the Disc's first train come steaming into town. Change is afoot in Ankh-Morpork. Discworld's first steam engine has arrived, and once again Moist von Lipwig finds himself with a new and challenging job.

    David says: "So much more than funny"
    "So much more than funny"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is hard to know how to characterize this and so many of Pratchett's other books in order to convey the desired impression which is, "If you have not already tried them, you really should read one right now." If a review mentions the goblins and trolls and werewolves and vampires, and the Leprechauns and, oh yes, the witches, it risks giving entirely the wrong impression. These have nothing in common with Tolkien and the least of them is far more human than your standard fantasy hero. If one refers to Pratchett as a brilliant humorist with a needle sharp wit, it suggests a self-conscious wordsmith who is too clever by half. Referring to his ability to crystallize the essence of human folly with deftly drawn plots which prick all our narrowest prejudices and suppositions with unerring accuracy suggests a tiresome agenda dressed up in borrowed whimsy.

    Perhaps it is simplest just to say that his books are an accumulated treasure trove of wisdom and delight. This particular one is not the best place to begin exploring since it depends upon some familiarity with its forebears for complete appreciation. This is, after all, book 40. But you needn't go back to book one. I would suggest Going Postal, which will get you nicely on track for the characters in Raising Steam. My personal favorite is Monstrous Regiment, but a quick survey of the reviews for the books Audible offers should give you an idea of other starting places. And since both the narrators available are terrific, you can't go wrong there either.

    One caveat. It may take you more than a chapter to get into the swing of things in Disk World. In fact, one of the hallmarks of these books is that their meaning and relevance accumulates, moving from whimsy to wisdom as each story progresses. This particular one starts a little more slowly than most and depends somewhat more on its predecessors, but by the end I was entirely delighted. Enjoy!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lay Down My Sword and Shield

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (487)
    Performance
    (319)
    Story
    (315)

    Against the backdrop of growing civil rights turmoil in a sultry border town, the hard-drinking ex-POW attorney Hackberry Holland yields to the myriad urgings of his wife, his brother, and his so-called friends to make a bid for a congressional seat - and finds himself embroiled in the seamy world of Texas powerbrokers.

    Cat F. says: "The Publisher's Summary is Anemic"
    "A character study--not a polemic or crime fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is pretty difficult to forgive the self-destructive, often self-righteous subject of this powerful character study, at least until you have reached the promising denouement. Burke never soft pedals the negative aspects of Hackberry's alcoholism and self-hatred. What he does do is expose its roots in the Korean War back story, making us relive with Holland a soul destroying history in a visceral and horrifying series of memories. He does, nonetheless, have redeeming qualities even at his lowest points--a love for horses and a compassion for the helpless which he finds inescapable even while he is single-mindedly gunning the engine in his flight to his own annihilation. And a burning hatred for hypocrisy. In fact, it is this last which fuels his descent as his lingering sense of guilt concerning his final "failure" under North Korean torturers makes it impossible for him to wear a mask of respectability in the here and now.

    This is not an easy book to read, and different auditors have obviously come away with widely divergent reactions. As for me, while I don't think this is Burke's finest work (that is a very high bar), I was able to engage deeply with Hack even while desperately wanting to slap him up side the head and lock him in his room. Even at his most repugnant, there was something there worth loving, and most of us have experienced that enough times in our lives to be able to relate. In addition, Burke's brilliantly poetic use of landscape and atmosphere is already in evidence in this early work. He also does a nice job of playing powerfully on the themes of hypocrisy and real cowardice which run throughout his later novels. By the last page, I was very satisfied and even moved.

    I would not, however, recommend this as a first read in the Burke oeuvre. I would suggest you get to know the later Hackberry and come back to this as very interesting back story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jhereg: Vlad Taltos, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Steven Brust
    • Narrated By Bernard Setaro Clark
    Overall
    (318)
    Performance
    (285)
    Story
    (292)

    Vlad Taltos, a mobster and assassin in the magical metropolis of Adrilankha, is given the largest contract of his career, but the job is even more complicated than he expects.

    D says: "Dragons, Assassins, and Intrigue"
    "Nothing riveting but lots of fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is nothing heavy or terribly intricate about Brust's creation--just a diverting tale set in a well constructed world with characters it is easy to cheer for. Often it is predictable, but it never lags or confuses. Sometimes inconsequential fluff is a wonderful change of pace when it is served with sufficient style and good humor and a sizable helping of clever repartee.

    I am coming to this series late, but now that I have found it, I know where to go when I just need a lighthearted fantasy adventure/mystery as a break from a grueling foray into the likes of Brandon Sanderson or Cormac McCarthy. Satisfying in very different ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Roger Crowley
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (311)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (135)

    Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant detail, exciting story"
    "Detailed but very readable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is a wealth of fascinating detail here, all placed in illuminating context and presented with the skill of a fine story teller. The book is nicely balanced with a sweeping overview of an extraordinary era emerging coherently from the particulars of valor, struggle, horror, betrayal, avarice, pride, politics, sea water and blood--so much blood.

    There is a good deal in the narrative which resonates with the struggles we currently face, but Crowley refrains from larding the story with superfluous modern interpretation. In fact, the book presents a picture which is much more focused on the motivations and idiosyncrasies of the individuals driving the conflict than on any great clash of competing philosophies or world views. Best of all, he includes riveting first hand accounts featuring scores of lesser players. A fine job of showing both the forest and the trees in living color.

    If you would like to like history but usually can't quite manage it, this may be the book for you!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Larry Correia
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    Overall
    (4743)
    Performance
    (4301)
    Story
    (4310)

    Jake Sullivan is a licensed private eye with a seriously hardboiled attitude. He also possesses raw magical talent and the ability to make objects in his vicinity light as a feather or as heavy as depleted uranium, all with a magical thought. It's no wonder the G-men turn to Jake when they need someoneto go after a suspected killer who has been knocking off banks in a magic-enhanced crime spree.

    Clinton says: "Not what I thought it was going to be."
    "Yes, it's as good as they say."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Thoroughly enjoyable and complete engaging. Correia's pacing is perfect, not breakneck but never sagging. His plotting is sufficiently complex to keep surprising you but it never becomes ponderous convoluted or overloaded with back story.

    I am more than a little zombie averse, and I am a pretty hard sell for modern urban fantasy so it took a lot of convincing raves from excellent reviewers for me to take a chance on this one. I'm very glad I did. This is a fantasy genre writer at the top of his game read by a superb narrator who never missed an inflection, mangled a pronunciation or botched a meaning with a misread sentence. It is rare that genre writing breaks through and transcends its genre to become deeply satisfying literature (Ray Bradbury, would be a prime example). That does not happen here, so four and a half stars, but I had such a great time listening to Hard Magic, that I feel a little miserly withholding that final half star.

    So unless you are unalterably opposed to very high quality cheap thrills, this is a ride you might want to get on.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (48 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2820)
    Performance
    (2704)
    Story
    (2701)

    In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war.

    D says: "Book !!; no let down- "Words of Radieance" shines"
    "Gruelingly epic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I suspect that Sanderson's story ideas always begin with the creation of a complex and fascinating new system of magic, for it is in this above all that he excels. Mistborn is the prime example, of course, but now he is dazzling us with an entirely new magical structure with the Stormlight Archives, and just to pass the time and keep his mind limber perhaps, he has added Steelheart for good measure. I do admire the way he begins with a simple, basic premise and then develops it ad infinitum, exploring all the imaginative ways the system can be exploited and stretched by his characters.

    And, speaking of characters, Sanderson is no slouch in that department either. His two principal protagonists in this series, Kaladin and Shallan, are a nice mixture of powerful and vulnerable, both as combatants in the epic struggle and as human beings trying to negotiate the traps and dead ends of their own personal natures. Both are sometimes exhausting in their intensity and emotional obtuseness, but we care about them and when they soar they take us with them in exhilaration. And happily they are surrounded by at least a dozen other believable principal characters who elicit chuckles and sneers and sometimes wide eyed surprise from us just as the dynamic duo are becoming a bit tiresome in their single-mindedness.

    Sanderson's incredibly complex plots which delve more and more deeply into his fantasy historical construct are, for me, a trifle tedious at times. They are amazing in their imaginative breadth and depth, but I just cannot care quite that much about the serpentine development playing out over the eons of his creative antiquity no matter how beautifully constructed they may be. I also have a small problem with his penchant for resurrecting characters who should be well and truly dead. Nor does he use language nearly so artfully as Abercombie or Guy Gavriel Kay. Nonetheless, he puts more than enough wonder and delight on my plate to keep me coming back again and again without complaining too much about the occasional over-seasoned brussels sprout. I look forward to the next installment with high anticipation.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Road

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5382)
    Performance
    (2030)
    Story
    (2058)

    America is a barren landscape of smoldering ashes, devoid of life except for those people still struggling to scratch out some type of existence. Amidst this destruction, a father and his young son walk, always toward the coast, but with no real understanding that circumstances will improve once they arrive. Still, they persevere, and their relationship comes to represent goodness in a world of utter devastation.

    Darwin8u says: "My wife says he's that Cold Desert Writer I love."
    "Very sad. Breathtakingly well written."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I usually do not write reviews of audible books which have already been very well reviewed by other listeners and/or when the press clips are insightful and accurate. I am making an exception with The Road because it occurs to me that there may be some listeners who will read this who might otherwise have missed this book. So I encourage you to check out the lead reviews. No use repeating.

    I would only add two things. First, many reviewers suggest that the center of this book is a meditation on the love between father and son which McCarthy brings to aching life for us. I think the real core of this book is about even deeper matters. If you have no reasonable hope for the future, why continue? This is not a question which is only faced by wanderers on a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. Why take the next step? Which may, of course, bring us back to the aforementioned love.

    Second, it seemed to me that the author copped out a little in the last five minutes. I will not elaborate, not wanting to risk spoilers. In any event, I am more than willing to forgive him and still stand in awed respect for this extraordinary piece of writing. It is as good as all those excellent reviews suggest. It is also the only book I can remember ever reading which authentically frightened me. Perhaps that is because my first grandchild is on the way.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Jonathan Safran Foer
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman, Barbara Caruso, Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2042)
    Performance
    (1216)
    Story
    (1226)

    Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, wowed critics on its way to winning several literary prizes, including Book of the Year honors from the Los Angeles Times. It has been published in 24 countries and will soon be a major motion picture. Foer's talent continues to shine in this sometimes hilarious and always heartfelt follow-up.

    Peter J says: "Suffused my being..."
    "Franz Kafka, Neil Gaiman, Isaac Bashevis Singer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Half an hour into the book I thought I was in for a tedious slog. Oskar, the more than precocious little boy who is the main character, wore me out fairly quickly with his wide-eyed naivete and remarkable imagination. This seemed like a writer who was trying way too hard. Gradually it became clear that it was Oskar who was trying way too hard, and the pain and confusion which were driving him were brought artfully into focus by some really brilliant writing. Still, Oskar's story by itself would not have sustained the book and, for me, the growing beauty of the narrative began to blossom with the entrance of his grandfather and grandmother, each relating his/her own journey in a continuous, Rashomon-like shift of perspectives. As things progress, these three points of view begin to construct a kind of hall of mirrors which finally can only be resolved by accepting all of them as true.

    For me the book finally became poetry, not of word, though the use of language is often exquisite, but of narrative detail. Some readers have had problems with the far fetched elements of the story--a man who loses spoken language one word at a time until the only word he has left is "I" and then loses that as well. A man who, each day after the death of his wife, drives a new nail into the bed he built for her and shared with her, until the thing weighs so much that he must construct a column to support the floor beneath it--and cannot say why he does it. These are brilliant and profound poetic images which accumulate through the course of the book and resist a one for one interpretation of "meaning." They mean what they do-to-you as you encounter them and let them under your skin. They are improbable and entirely true.

    Most reviewers seem most taken by Oskar but, perhaps because I am older than the average, I was most deeply affected by the grandmother and grandfather. I found their narratives deeply moving and evocative of the struggle we so often have with intimacy and being known by those closest to us. I recommend the book most enthusiastically to those who have loved or almost loved for many years and are still struggling to get it right.

    Incidentally, the book actually has very little to do with 9/11 but a great deal to do with loss, healing and our amazing capacity to rediscover things we think we have lost forever. It lifted my spirits and made my heart swell.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Paul Collins
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (914)
    Performance
    (747)
    Story
    (747)

    In Long Island, a farmer found a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discovered a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumbled upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime were turning up all over New York, but the police were baffled: There were no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most perplexing murder.

    deborah says: "Great look at NYC crime, forensics, and journalism"
    "Focus on a time and place"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The real focus of this book is New York City at the turn of the 20th century. A ghastly crime and the ensuing investigation, trial and denouement serve as the occasion for the narrative, but the book uses these central events to immerse the reader in a very wide ranging evocation of the time and place. As melodramatic as many of the events and details may be, in the end this is a piece of well researched cultural history which gives one the sense of being set down in the middle of the chaos, the sights, the sounds, the smells and the swirling energy at the vortex of American turn-of-the-century dynamism.

    This New York has spawned a gaggle of newspapers engaged in a cutthroat struggle for survival. It is a rich, bubbling brew of newly arrived European immigrants finding their place in a brash society which has just gotten a grip on its confidence and is changing at the speed of avaricious inspiration. It is a time when trial reports are transmitted to anxious newsrooms by both telephone and carrier pigeon. Scientific "experts" are finding their way onto witness stands, and American jurisprudence is celebrating its first superstar criminal attorneys. In short, this is an extremely interesting city!

    If you are looking for a gripping true crime investigation, penetrating character studies or a probing examination of the newspaper wars, you will be somewhat disappointed. If you would be delighted to be delivered by time-machine to a fascinating city where a diver in a newfangled helmet is searching the bottom of the river for a severed head and where the grisly aspects of the recently introduced and quite inefficient electric chair are being hotly debated, this may be your cup of tea.

    I found William Dufris' narration to be a bit labored and overwrought, perhaps in keeping with the lurid nature of some of the content. Still I would recommend the book to anyone who will enjoy a colorful and detailed glimpse of a moment in history.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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