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John

Born with earbuds.

Watertown, SD | Member Since 2003

ratings
296
REVIEWS
16
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
22
HELPFUL VOTES
254

  • Ruins: Pathfinder, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki, Kirby Heyborne, Emily Janice Card
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1372)
    Performance
    (1219)
    Story
    (1241)

    When Rigg and his friends crossed the Wall between the only world they knew and a world they could not imagine, he hoped he was leading them to safety. But the dangers in this new wallfold are more difficult to see. Rigg, Umbo, and Param know that they cannot trust the expendable, Vadesh - a machine shaped like a human, created to deceive - but they are no longer certain that they can even trust one another. But they will have little choice. Because although Rigg can decipher the paths of the past, he can’t yet see the horror that lies ahead: A destructive force with deadly intentions is hurtling toward Garden.

    James says: "Story Stretching 101"
    "Groundhog Day Meets SciFi Armageddon"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed listening to the book, but there's lots of filler consisting of characters bickering that added nothing to the story and was actually painful at times. Real conflict is part of great story-telling, but filling pages with characters making the same old hackneyed jabs at each other is the author padding.

    The positives of the book are a variety of interesting characters and a world of wonder and confusion where you don't know who, what, or when to trust. We have time travel, misbehaving human-like robots, dangerous computers, water-people, tree-people, perception-enhancing parasites, and mysterious mice. Somehow the novel combines a quest with the complexities of cold-wars and cast systems. This second book is much more ambitious than the first.

    Are preemptive strikes justified? Where is the line between human and non-human drawn. How can you establish trust? Do the ends justify the means? In the end, our heroes find out just how difficult it can be to stop people from killing you when you don't even know why they want you dead. While the book has an exciting ending, it's hard to say whether the ending is a frustrating cliffhanger, or a reasonable tease for the next book in the series.


    8 of 11 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
    Overall
    (238)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (222)

    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....

    Joki says: "Decent Modern Military Sci Fi"
    "90% SciFi, 10% Cheese"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • We Were Liars

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By E. Lockhart
    • Narrated By Ariadne Meyers
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (90)

    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"
    "Why?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    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.


    1 of 1 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
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (76)

    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.

    Joseph says: "Good Start"
    "The Dark Between My Snores"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    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?

    Presumptuous.


    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.

    5 of 11 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
    Overall
    (526)
    Performance
    (477)
    Story
    (486)

    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"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    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 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6885)
    Performance
    (6303)
    Story
    (6309)

    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"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    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.

    112 of 122 people found this review helpful
  • The Famous and the Dead: Charlie Hood, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By T. Jefferson Parker
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Charlie Hood is attached to the ATF, working undercover on the Iron River that flows across the U.S.-Mexican border. The diamond fillings he wears in his left canine glimmer, distracting the men who sell the illegal firearms that enable the unspeakable violence on both sides of the map. Spotting the sparkle when “Charlie Diamonds” opens his mouth is often their first step toward life behind bars.

    John says: "Dead-end for the series . . ."
    "Dead-end for the series . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I love the author's previous work, but this book was disjointed and uneven. Every so often it would dawn on me that a key character had been ignored for several chapters and that the subplots seemed unrelated. Well-developed characters in previous books became almost caricatures in this book. Maybe the author has become disillusioned with the series or, for whatever reason, simply stopped at draft #2 instead of #3 or #4.

    Ultimately the book tried to do to much and ended up doing nothing as well as I've come to expect from Parker. I'm not unhappy that I bought the book, but it is not nearly as good as others in the series. In the end, a book that was susposed to wrap-up the series sort of just killed it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Six Years

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2653)
    Performance
    (2285)
    Story
    (2301)

    Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for...but she is not Natalie....

    Richard Delman says: "Mr. Coben has gotten waaaay too popular."
    "Gone Girl Sans Sociopaths"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Six Years?

    The book has some overarching themes (gray versus black & white, keeping promises, fresh starts) and explores these very well--sometimes at the expense of the immediate story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Six Years?

    The book really takes off early on when the main character realizes that the husband of the woman he loves has died and he can't wait to get in touch with her again.


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

    Scott brings the main character's love-sick puppy qualities to the surface. This is good for some, and annoying for others. Overall, I think it is the way Coben intended the character to be so don't blame Scott.


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

    Coben books always have solid pacing and interesting starting premises so the book was easy to keep listening to. However, at some point, it became a little tedious waiting and waiting for the payoff. The author could have added some side-plots to the story or developed the relatively flat characters further to prevent some readers getting bored. The single plot line also put too much pressure on the ending to live up to expectations. In fairness, Coben has guts to still write one-off novels rather than always writing series books.


    Any additional comments?

    The book is definitely worth reading, and is entertaining despite its flaws. If you have read all Coben's books, you will find this one a bit below par. The negatives are a main character that's only moderately likable and whose actions are only moderately plausible. Most of the main characters best traits seem borrowed from Myron Bolitar such as sarcastic self-talk.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Jim Bernheimer
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (47)

    Homicide Detective David Bagini awakens in a strange world only to discover that he is, in fact, the 42nd clone of the Bagini line. With no memories of why his Prime entered into a clone contract, he wants answers. The first problem is his Prime is dead and Bagini 42 is in charge of the investigation. The second problem is all the clues point at a clone from his line and they already know all his tricks. How can he solve his own murder when every suspect has his name and face?

    John says: "We have met the enemy and they is us."
    "We have met the enemy and they is us."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This is a clever little SciFi book.

    You're a detective--one of the best--expected to solve a murder. Failure to do so may cost you and everyone related to you their existence. The murder victim is you. The murderer may be you. You may also be an accomplice. The police chief is interfering in the investigation (also you). And there probably isn't any move you can make that the murderer(s) can't anticipate.

    Perhaps the best aspect of the book is it's glimpse into the essence of individuality and self-discovery. It's a nature versus nurture experiment taken to the extreme.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease - and the Statin-Free Plan That Will

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen T. Sinatra, Jonny Bowden
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (224)
    Story
    (223)

    Emerging science is showing that cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart disease and that standard prescriptions for lowering it, such as ineffective low-fat/high-carb diets and serious, side-effect-causing statin drugs, obscure the real causes of heart disease. Even doctors at leading institutions have been misled for years based on creative reporting of research results from pharmaceutical companies intent on supporting the $31-billion-a-year cholesterol-lowering drug industry.

    Z. Karpinski says: "Easy to understand, helpful in practice"
    "As Perfect As A Health Book Can Be"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Great Cholesterol Myth in three words, what would they be?

    Pure science, verifiable with references to primary, published, peer reviewed research.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The authors proved their points many different ways to drive their message home.


    What does George K. Wilson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He personifies the authority of the authors.


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

    Yes. There was so much useful information, you wanted it all right-away.


    Any additional comments?

    The authors missed an opportunity to directly address cholesterol's role in making heart disease worse if inflammatory factors are present. They also failed to mention cases where cholesterol does have a primary role in arterial sclerosis as in familial hypercholesterolemia. In addition, they probably should have addressed whether statins that traverse the blood-brain barrier have as large of a cognitive risk as those that don't. I have contacted the authors in hopes that they will address these issues in future additions.

    On the very positive side, they minimize the use of anecdotal evidence to justify points, unlike many new age, pseudoscience books.

    Some complementary topics to look up, not covered in detail in the book:
    Heart-rate variability (HRV)
    Sleep-apnea and cardiac health
    Exercise & Insulin Resistance



    22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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