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John C.

Born with earbuds.

South Dakota | Member Since 2003

  • 21 reviews
  • 310 ratings
  • 2377 titles in library
  • 327 purchased in 2014

  • Broken Harbor: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Stephen Hogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Broken Harbor, all but one member of the Spain family lies dead, and it’s up to Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy to find out why. Mick must piece together why their house is full of cameras pointed at holes in the walls and how a nighttime intruder bypassed all the locks. Meanwhile, the town of Broken Harbor holds something else for Mick: disturbing memories of a childhood summer gone terribly wrong.

    barbara says: "Stunned"
    "Beautiful, Sad, Thoughtful & True"
    What made the experience of listening to Broken Harbor the most enjoyable?

    This novel keeps you guessing as to "who" and "why" as it explores possible explanations for the murders of several members of a once idyllic family. It's more of a WhyDoneIt than a WhoDoneIt in the end. Tana French does an artistic job of showing the psychology of all the characters on a continuum with no one perfectly sane and several not far from losing touch with reality or already over-the-edge. This exploration of the gray areas of psychology is much more true-to-life than the black and white "crazy or normal" stereotypes used in many books and in everyday life.

    Those who have read French's other books may find this one more satisfying in some ways and and less so in others. It has some of the sense of place that Faithful Place possessed and some of the character driven excitement of In the Woods. If there is a criticism of the book, it is that it struggles and drifts in the middle trying to decide just where it is going. I still found it easy enough to listen to even during this meandering. Perhaps the author was struggling to satisfy both the literary and mystery aspects of the novel. Some might find the police procedural style at the beginning more interesting than the later psychological aspects of the book while others will feel the reverse. However, if you have read other French books, you know that she does both of these well and will find them satisfying.

    Thankfully, in a real sense, this novel does not delve directly into the questions of how people could do such terribly things as murdering children. That is to say, possibilities are explored, but the author does not insult the reader by insisting that there is only one answer and she knows it. Some people see such acts as pure evil, others as desperation, and still others as insanity--and most of us aren't likely to change our minds. Whatever, the cause, French seems to say, "These things do happen."

    Some themes of the book are:
    The simplest answer is usually the correct one
    Places and the past are strongly intertwined
    People often invite misfortune into their lives
    Once you compromise your principles, you can't go back
    People doing what they think is right can wreak terrible havoc
    Some questions won't ever be answered to your satisfaction

    What other book might you compare Broken Harbor to and why?

    There are aspects of Janeology, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Devotion of Suspect X. Janeology for the subject matter and the inheritance aspects of psychiatric issues,
    Her Fearful Symmetry for parallels of both wanting the best and worst for a sibling.
    The Devotion of Suspect X explores issues of self-sacrifice.

    There is also resonance with works of Ian Rankin & Harlan Coben. Rankin & French are so good at realism that you seldom doubt there stories. Coben & French both expose the degree to which past is truly prologue.

    What does Stephen Hogan bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration is perfect for both male and female voices. Hogan is brilliant and neither over or under-emotes.

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

    When everyone's a victim, who do you arrest?

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Power of a Queen: Annihilation, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Saxon Andrew
    • Narrated By Liam Owen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Humans have destroyed 2,000 Alliance Warships and now they are taking the war to the worlds responsible for attempting to destroy Earth. The Alliance still has more than 48,000 Warships but the way things are going, they may not be enough. A new Queen has come to power and her impact on the struggle will be monumental.

    Chuck says: "I just couldn't stomach it."
    "Middle East Peace: Just Explain Violence is Bad."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Some characters in this book are indestructible like Superman, but WITHOUT any kryptonite weakness. Need I say how this lowers the stakes.

    I liked the first book, but found this book be bizarrely naive. In one scene two warring factions put their differences aside and make peace, literally, after two minutes of a lecture on why aggression is counterproductive. Two more minutes and the foes that were on the brink of genocide become best allies.

    Imagine Hitler, facing imminent defeat, talks to the U.S. about ceasing hostilities and saying "My God What Have I Done, I've Been So Wrong. How can I ever atone for what I have done? Killing innocent people is wrong, I see that now". And he means it! Then a few days later, the U.S. provides Adolf with nukes so that Germany can protect themselves against Russia. I am not exaggerating--even for a YA, this would be highly simplistic plotline. A C.J. Cherryh novel on the other hand, has very realistic and engaging diplomacy to achieve peace. Such a blow to realism.

    I guess I know now why I felt the "Love Conquers All" subtitle of the first book was a little iffy. I found the tech and battle scenes fine although when you're Superman the odds are in your favor. Did I mention that the Superman-like characters are also psychic because being unkillable and a self-contained WMD is not enough advantage. I'm not so much put off with the book, just very surprised that a reasonably well written novel would have such glaring weaknesses.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Starshine: Aurora Rising, Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By G. S. Jennsen
    • Narrated By Pyper Down
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The year is 2322. Humanity has expanded into the stars, inhabiting over 100 worlds across a third of the galaxy. Though thriving as never before, they have discovered neither alien life nor the key to utopia. Earth struggles to retain authority over far-flung planets and free-wheeling corporations while an uneasy armistice with a breakaway federation hangs by a thread as the former rebels rise in wealth and power.

    Douglas says: "Bodice Ripper Meets Hard Science"
    "Good Story, Too Predictable At Times"
    What made the experience of listening to Starshine the most enjoyable?

    This book is solid Military SciFi. The characterization is good and the overall plot keeps your interest. Be aware that the book has an unforgivable cliff-hanger ending. Unforgivable because nothing is resolved (i.e. no ending) as our heroes embark on a special, dangerous mission to find out what is really going on. The book should have ended on some major milestone being achieved, even if it was just a battle and not the war. Obviously the cliffhanger is less important, if you get the next book, but it is frankly an unprofessional way to write: Every book in a series should be satisfying, even if you stop there. Imagine if Star Wars ended with Luke taking off in his X-wing on a mission to destroy the Death Star . . . roll credits.

    The love interest between two of the main characters is a little off-putting, not because it doesn't belong in a SciFi novel, but because it is cliche, predictable, and time-consuming for the limited value it adds to the characterization. You have two attractive people from different sides of the tracks confined together in a small space and initially snippy and antagonistic--what could possibly happen here? With the third person omniscient narration, you get so much of their inner thoughts that it is sometimes like a friend babbling on and on about their relationship worries. I didn't mind the "love story" that much, but it just sort of derailed the action every so often.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Chanur's Venture: Chanur, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs)
    • By C. J. Cherryh
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the sequel to Pride of Chanur, Tully returns, and brings with him a priceless trade contract with human space - a contract that could mean vast power, riches, and a mess of trouble for Pyanfar Chanur.

    Ellen says: "A whirl of worlds."
    "Stuff Happens But No Real Plot"
    What did you like best about Chanur's Venture? What did you like least?

    I enjoyed the first book in the series, but this one seemed like fluff--not necessarily bad, just unfocused. It has many of the interesting elements of the first such as inter-clan rivalry and an array of unique alien races. It also has a intriguing exploration of how Pyanfar's mate copes with being overthrown and largely emasculated.

    The publisher's summary implies the human plays some major role concerning trade, but that really gets lost in what largely seems to be the space equivalent of an extending Hollywood chase scene.

    Would you recommend Chanur's Venture to your friends? Why or why not?

    To me it largely depends on whether the 3rd book in the series is good. The book is tolerable as a bridge to the 3rd book, if it delivers.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Dosadi Experiment

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Frank Herbert
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Generations of a tormented human-alien people, caged on a toxic planet, conditioned by constant hunger and war - this is the Dosadi Experiment, and it has succeeded too well. For the Dosadi have bred for vengeance as well as cunning, and they have learned how to pass through the shimmering God Wall to exact their dreadful revenge on the Universe that created them....

    William E. Tomlin says: "intersting story, excellent presentation"
    "Maybe the Rats Are Conducting Tests on You . . ."
    What did you like best about this story?

    While SciFi, this book plays out a lot like a spy novel. It is very heady and psychological with all the intrigue of undercover plants and double agents. Characters believe they are fully in control, only to find out that they've been played and all of their actions anticipated.

    Not everyone will enjoy the ambiguous way the story unfolds or the lack of direct explanation of what is happening, but for those that do, this novel is quite remarkable. The court room scenes where the attorneys have to believe enough in there clients to put there life on the line with their clients are especially entertaining.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Awakening: The Hyperscape Project, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donald Swan
    • Narrated By Meral Mathews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Enemy activity had fallen into an eerie calm, but everyone felt the coming storm - a terrible storm, poised to unleash its fury upon the galaxy. It seemed as though the entire universe was holding its breath. Waiting. Whether waiting for the salvation of mankind or its demise was yet unclear.

    DocJim says: "Great Beginning!"
    "Non-SciFi SciFi"
    Where does The Awakening rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is good not great. There are many other authors better at world building, space opera, or hard scifi. What the book does have is decent characters and enough action and suspense to entertain.

    Sometimes it's a bit too cliche (e.g. time travel paradoxes, nanites) and sometimes a bit too campy (e.g. we're trapped in a room thats shrinking, a princess is leading the rebels). The aliens seem borrowed from central casting (e.g. We need a frog, a lizard, and a sexy green chick, stat).

    Overall I like the book with two complaints:
    1. The main character seems a little contradictory: I invented a hyperspace drive, but I'm dumb about everything else except if my life's in danger.
    2. There is a lot of silliness to the story. You see, all the aliens seem to like practical jokes, and they don't think of simple ways to defeat enemy shields, but the primitive human does.

    Hopefully as the series evolves it will take itself a little more seriously so the reader can as well.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Aurora: CV-01: Frontiers Saga, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Ryk Brown
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    world recovering from a devastating plague. A brutal enemy threatening invasion. A young man seeking to escape the shadow of his father. A ship manned by a crew of fresh academy graduates. A top-secret experimental propulsion system. A questionable alliance with a mysterious green-eyed woman. What destiny has in store for the crew of the UES Aurora is far greater than any of them could ever imagine. And this is only the beginning....

    medicman says: "aint no jack cambell"
    "90% SciFi, 10% Cheese"
    What did you love best about Aurora: CV-01?

    I have read all 10 books in the series and liked them all. The first two books are a little too cutesy in places--apparently the author thinks this is adding to the book when it's actually taking away. While it's great that the main character is a "natural" rather than the book learning type, he takes a little too much continual dufus pride in this. Also, fiction seems to be littered with characters that do what needs to be done and then fret about it like a little school child. While I dig characters with emotional depth, the books occasionally go overboard.

    Also there's a Messiah gimmick which is pretty cheesy at times and may scare the reader that the books are going to go "Left Behind" which they thankfully don't. If the books didn't keep me interested with battles, espionage, and intergalactic diplomacy, I might have been more annoyed. At some points the military aspects are pretty inauthentic, but at times they are very well done. All-in-all these are better than average, although not exceptional SciFi. I actually found them better than the Lost Fleet books I read because I found the main character in those to be somewhat of a caricature, but I respect those that disagree.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • We Were Liars

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By E. Lockhart
    • Narrated By Ariadne Meyers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends - the Liars - whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

    Ida Wilder says: "Fell flat for me"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This is not a spoiler, but early on the protagonist says her father shot her and left her bleeding when he abandoned the family. While meant figuratively, I thought for a second it was literal, and was entranced that the story might be a journey to learn why he shot his daughter. It might have been more interesting.

    Would you recommend We Were Liars to your friends? Why or why not?

    The book is very well written, and has well defined, fully realized characters. Having said that, this is a dark book without any particular depth or meaning, although the events and extreme emotionality almost simulate them. The younger the reader is, the more they may be hoodwinked, although I wouldn't recommended the book to anyone under 15. It touches on racism, elitisms, hypocrisy, friendship, family, charity, nostalgia, and fleetingly with forgiveness, but not to any true sense of resolution.

    Some have commented on the twist(s) or the predictability, and I have to admit that if you combine two very popular movies together you've locked in on this books key gimmicks. I have mixed emotions, because they were undeniably well executed. Memory repression & selective amnesia have been somewhat of a cliche over the past 30-years and I wonder if they happen much more in movies and books than in real life. The chief mistake of the book is that the reveal is so close to the end that there is only time for minimal resolution. There is not a compelling message or resonance to the book.

    Perhaps young people are idealistic and sometimes very foolish and old people are sometimes controlling and as childish as young people, but why did the author think this particular story was important to tell? What could have been a mystery, a horror novel, or a coming of age story gets somehow stalled as a character development piece. Ultimately the book reads quickly and maintains interest, so I don't discourage reading it--just know that it is more or a tragedy than an HEA.

    Two examples (not YA) of books that are fully fleshed out, but better developed tragedies with some similarity to this book are:
    The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
    An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

    Which character – as performed by Ariadne Meyers – was your favorite?

    The narration was excellent and all characters were done very well. Toward the end, the narrator gets a little heavy with the emoting rather than letting the words carry the emotion.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Dark Between the Stars: The Saga of Shadows, Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Kevin J. Anderson
    • Narrated By Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Twenty years after the elemental conflict that nearly tore apart the cosmos in The Saga of Seven Suns, a new threat emerges from the darkness. The human race must set aside its own inner conflicts to rebuild their alliance with the Ildiran Empire for the survival of the galaxy. In Kevin J. Anderson's The Dark Between the Stars, galactic empires clash, elemental beings devastate whole planetary systems, and factions of humanity are pitted against one another.

    Trip Williams says: "Crank It Up Again!"
    "The Dark Between My Snores"
    What would have made The Dark Between the Stars better?

    The first chapter was passable and then it meandered into uninteresting characters doing uninteresting things for uninteresting reasons. Most of the time, the author is just telling you uninteresting things, which is less interesting than if the characters were simply doing or discovering the bland on their own.

    What was most disappointing about Kevin J. Anderson’s story?

    The words.

    Which scene was your favorite?


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Dark Between the Stars?

    While I stopped listening after about 2 hours, I imagine if the 22 hours were distilled down to ~8 hours, it might seem like something happened.

    Any additional comments?

    I normally don't pan books to this degree even if they aren't my cup of tea, but unless you you are already a huge Kevin J. Anderson fan, this tea is hemlock infused. Apparently he has written over a 100 books. I like the Hellhole series, although the first book has an unforgivable cliffhanger ending. Brian Herbert co-wrote that series so perhaps he made a huge difference.

    7 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Magic of Recluce: Saga of Recluce, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By L. E. Modesitt Jr.
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circumstances means taking one of two options: permanent exile from Recluce or braving the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce, with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. Lerris chooses the dangergeld.

    Captain Skurvy says: "Epic Fantasy"
    "Quest=Questions to be Answered"
    What made the experience of listening to The Magic of Recluce the most enjoyable?

    Good characterization and realism made the book easy and interesting to listen too.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There was more than one which is a good sign. Some characters could have used more development, but hey there are sequels. The best character is probably the headstrong pony the hero rides.

    Which scene was your favorite?

    There are several scenes tense with danger, and a showdown with the villain.

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

    Exiled without explanation. Sent on a mission without instructions.

    Any additional comments?

    The narrator is a bit draggy, but grows on you. The sound effects as other reviews have said are quite jarring, like when a commercial comes on the television much louder and more obnoxious than the regular show.

    If the book has a weakness, it's probably a lack of a cohesive theme or philosophy. It has all of the underpinnings, but somehow the execution is off. Maybe the sequels will provide more support.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "A Not So Secret History"
    Any additional comments?

    The good news:
    ∙Easy to read, interesting, and thought-provoking.
    ∙Lots of words for the money, and for the most part, it doesn't drag or seem like filler.
    ∙Called Dickensonian by many (e.g. Stephen King), the book has many of the elements of other accomplished author's works. Obvious ones are "On the Road", "The Catcher in the Rye", "The Painted Bird", "The Great Gatsby", "The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death", "Dark Places", "Snobs", and "The Kite Runner". Most of the Dicken's comparisons mention "Oliver Twist" or "David Copperfield", but I found that it borrows the most from "Great Expectations" if plot is excluded. It's probably pointless to make comparisons to Tartt's classmate, Bret Easton Ellis, but you can't read "Lunar Park" and escape the kinship.
    ∙It has a lot of what made "The Secret History" great.
    ∙The setup is as compelling as any book in recent memory.
    ∙One of the main character's friends is as developed and memorable as any character in popular fiction.

    The bad news:
    ∙The first couple chapters are tedious. I was relieved when the book finally took off. You'd think the editor didn't get a say.
    ∙The painting serves somewhat as a MacGuffin, reducing its impact as a near-character in the novel.
    ∙The 2nd quarter of the book goes on an indulgent interlude. The book is the length of 4 standard novels, so this section could easily have been tightened up with no harm done.
    ∙Toward the end, the novel's themes are reiterated in narrative exposition as if the author doesn't trust the reader to understand them from the story itself.
    ∙At least one important character is very static and woefully underdeveloped.
    ∙It may be personal preference, but I tend to dislike characters that repeatedly behave immorally or amorally, but constantly fret about it. Fine if the character grows over time (or devolves), but frankly, who likes a shit that constantly feels bad that he's such a shit. There's Byronic and there's embryonic. I imagine Tartt might say, "But some people are actually like that". Yes, but perhaps that makes them more bland than a hero or an anti-hero.

    Other thoughts:
    Some movie comparisons might be "Closer", "Good Will Hunting", and "Ordinary People" with a little "True Romance" thrown in for feathers.

    132 of 150 people found this review helpful

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