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Mark A. Bentley

Utility Infielder

Northern Virginia, United States | Member Since 2011

2
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 19 ratings
  • 89 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
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  • Psycho

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Bloch
    • Narrated By Paul Michael Garcia
    Overall
    (197)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (122)

    It was a dark and stormy night when Mary Crane glimpsed the unlit neon sign announcing the vacancy at the Bates Motel. Exhausted, lost, and at the end of her rope, she was eager for a hot shower and a bed for the night. Her room was musty, but clean, and the manager seemed nice, if a little odd.

    sophieinwonderland says: "We all go a little crazy sometimes"
    "Has anyone not seen the film?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Psycho?

    Hitchcock was pretty loyal to the book, other than casting -- Norman is a different age and body type than Anthony Perkins, and Martin Balsam plays Arborgast considerably different than the book's character. It's so difficult to not "see" the film while listening to the book, but, fortunately, they pretty much follow the same path.

    The performance is very good. The reader makes subtle changes in voice, just enough to let you know it's a different character.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5)

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Minnie Goode
    Overall
    (1322)
    Performance
    (1206)
    Story
    (1206)

    This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

    Charles says: "Unique"
    "Engrossing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5) the most enjoyable?

    The end -- the narrator is simply awful.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Juliette is a remarkable heroine. Smart, tough, clever, and dedicated. I would want her on my post-apocalyptic team!


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Her voices were cartoonish. She did OK as Juliette, but the other characters... the mayor sounds like he stepped off the set of a 1950s western; the head of IT sounds like... well, no one I've ever heard speak. And Solo is simply ridiculous.


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

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25560)
    Performance
    (19407)
    Story
    (19475)

    In a time long forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons off balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. As the cold returns, sinister forces are massing beyond the protective wall of the kingdom of Winterfell. To the south, the king's powers are failing, with his most trusted advisor mysteriously dead and enemies emerging from the throne's shadow.

    DCinMI says: "Review of First 5 Books"
    "One of the best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up A Game of Thrones in three words, what would they be?

    I want more.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eddard Stark. A complex man, whose sense of honor is also his biggest flaw.


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

    Indeed, it made me wish for a longer commute!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hunt for Red October

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy
    • Narrated By J. Charles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1514)
    Performance
    (1138)
    Story
    (1147)

    A deadly serious game of hide-and-seek is on. The CIA's brilliant young analyst, Jack Ryan, thinks he knows the reason for the sudden Red Fleet operation: the Soviets' most valuable ship, the Red October, is attempting to defect to the United States.

    Christian says: "Audio quality quite poor"
    "Virtually unlistenable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of J. Charles?

    Virtually anyone. Seriously. His normal voice is fine, but when he drops into dialogue, everyone except Jack Ryan sounds like a cartoon character. His Russian accent -- which is identical for every Russian character in the novel -- is such a cliche that kept expecting him to cry out "Moose and Squirrel!" Fortunately, I know this story pretty well, having read the hardcover years ago (I rent these books for a long, boring commute, and sometimes you don't want to listen to hardcore literature that requires a great deal of attention, and Clancy's stories are the perfect formula, generally speaking), so I was able to grit my teeth and get through the dialogue. But for someone who has not read this book, I cannot recommend it. Charles is absolutely dreadful.


    Any additional comments?

    A classic from Clancy's glory days. A shame his newer works fall so short of his early stuff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Threat Vector

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy, Mark Greaney
    • Narrated By Lou Diamond Phillips
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3603)
    Performance
    (3155)
    Story
    (3170)

    Jack Ryan has only just moved back into the Oval Office when he is faced with a new international threat. An aborted coup in the People's Republic of China has left President Wei Zhen Lin with no choice but to agree with the expansionist policies of General Su Ke Quiang. They have declared the South China Sea a protectorate and are planning an invasion of Taiwan. The Ryan administration is determined to thwart China’s ambitions, but the stakes are dangerously high as a new breed of powerful Chinese anti-ship missiles endanger the US Navy's plans to protect the island.

    Jean says: "Spies and a counter espionage"
    "Not bad"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    This book is a considerable improvement over the previous two installments in the series. Most of the inane political carping is gone, and the story is actually somewhat feasible; the vulnerability of government agencies and their contractors with regards to cyberattacks is a real threat, and Clancy does a very good job at explaining the technology. True, some key plot elements are quite far-fetched (such as bad guys being able to follow a person throughout the city of Washington, by hacking in to any security camera at will), but it's a work of fiction, and in all fairness the technologies described are worlds more realistic than most of the scenarios we see in film and TV.


    Have you listened to any of Lou Diamond Phillips’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    LDP continues the great work he did in the previous two installments of this series.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cryptonomicon

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    Overall
    (2108)
    Performance
    (1451)
    Story
    (1471)

    Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

    flaos says: "Finally Audible"
    "Outstanding... and not just for geeks"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Cryptonomicon to be better than the print version?

    Yes -- because I started on the print version years ago, and got stuck on it. The recorded version carried me through several cross-country trips, and was thoroughly engaging.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cryptonomicon?

    It's difficult to pick one out -- there were several that stick with me. Enoch Root's scenes were all pretty memorable.


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

    When reading a book, I tend to voice characters in my head in a way that I would probably speak. In a piece like this, that intertwines real characters from history with very well-defined fictional characters, who run the gamut from nerdy intellectuals to gung-ho Marines, Dufris' incredible range really adds to the story.


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

    "Part one of a 12 part story."


    Any additional comments?

    An exhausting book. I had no idea how all these characters and plot elements would (or could) tie together. But they did. Stephenson's mind is a wildly complex place...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Locked On

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy, Mark Greaney
    • Narrated By Lou Diamond Phillips
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3715)
    Performance
    (3186)
    Story
    (3172)

    Although his father had been reluctant to become a field operative, Jack Ryan Jr. wants nothing more. Privately training with a seasoned Special Forces drill instructor, he’s honing his skills to transition his work within The Campus from intelligence analysis to hunting down and eliminating terrorists wherever he can—even as Jack Ryan Sr. campaigns for re-election as President of the United States. But what neither father nor son knows is that the political and the personal have just become equally dangerous.

    Jackie says: "WHAT? WHEN? WHO? WHY? WHERE?"
    "Clancy continues to phone it in"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Only if they're a long-time Clancy fan, like I am... or rather, was; I keep checking out his new stuff, hoping for a gripping technothriller like "Hunt for Red October" or "Sum of All Fears."


    What was most disappointing about Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney ’s story?

    This is another disjointed, barely-credible fantasy story about a super-secret organization, staffed with ex-CIA operatives, whose hackers are SO GOOD they can routinely surf the inner sanctums of the CIA and NSA, and whose financial analysts are SO GOOD they can make enough money to infinitely fund this shadow organization off the books, and who can zip into any country, anywhere in the world, and torture or kill any Bad Guy they feel like. While their foreign opponents are, in some ways, remotely credible, their domestic opposition -- namely, the party that Jack Ryan Sr does not belong to -- are invariably cartoonish, feeble, and so mind-bogglingly inept, that I'm reminded of 1930s/40s propaganda pieces from both the Allies and the Axis. An example: While the love interest of Jack Ryan Jr is beautiful, young, brilliant, and perfectly fit -- and so chaste that she doesn't kiss on the first date -- the only other woman in the story with more than a few lines (a lawyer from the ACLU) is old, fat, ugly and corrupt, and determined to get Osama bin Laden (or at least a thinly disguised version) not only out of prison, but into bed. It's amateurish, which is a shame, since much of the story is actually quite interesting.But not all. A key scene, which one would think would be the apex of the action, involves two heroes trying to disarm a nuclear weapon. Instead of building the tension, the situation resolves itself "off screen," and we are told that an expert called the heroes on their sat phone and told them the procedures. Whew! That was close!Finally, while Clancy managed to keep politics out of his works for his first 20 years, lately he's obsessed with it. He laid it on so thick this time that I actually found myself rooting against the heroes, namely Jack Ryan and John Clarke. Ryan comes off especially as an angry, bitter, arrogant jerk in this piece, a far cry from the brilliant but humble CIA analyst who found himself thrown into treacherous situations. Again, we don't know how much Tom Clancy actually contributes to his own works anymore; it's possible he outsourced the entire book.


    What does Lou Diamond Phillips bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    LDP does a great job. I used to listen to the "Books on Tape" versions of TC novels back in the casette days, and Michael Prichard did a pretty good job with the narration, but LDP brings the dialogue to life. He's also pretty good at accents, and since most of the cast of "Locked On" is non-American, his work is cut out for him. Unfortunately, he only has one Russian accent, and sometimes it's difficult to tell the characters apart.


    Do you think Locked On needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No, but like a sucker, if there is a sequel, I'll pony up for it. I listen to these things during commutes, and you really don't want to listen to works that require a great deal of thought when you're in heavy Beltway traffic. TC has always been pretty good for that sort of thing, and despite the serious and repeated shortcomings of his later works (or, more likely the shortcomings of his ghostwriter).


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dead or Alive

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy, Grant Blackwood
    • Narrated By Lou Diamond Phillips
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4917)
    Performance
    (2690)
    Story
    (2706)

    Jack Ryan, the former president of the United States, is out of office, but not out of the loop about his brainchild, the “Campus” - a highly effective, counter-terrorism organization that operates outside the Washington hierarchy. But what Ryan doesn’t know is that his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., has joined his cousins, Brian and Dominic Caruso, at the shadowy Campus. While a highly effective analyst, young Ryan hungers for the action of a field agent.

    Robert B. Wales says: "Same great Clancey - Great narration"
    "Had its moments"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Dead or Alive? What did you like least?

    Performance is very good, althought LDP gets stuck on certain "foreign" accents, and tends to repeat them. Plots was simplistic, but entertaining. Starts out very strong, but gets bogged down before too long. Clancy (or, more likely, Blackwood; Clancy appears to have sold his name to the highest bidder, which I find a little repugnant) spends way too much time creating an inept caricature of a president, only to allow his heroes to poke fun at him. Adopting a previous character, Clancy has turned him into a parody of President Obama, and spends a ridiculous amount of time injecting his own right-wing politics into the story.

    A few ridiculous factual errors spoil an otherwise interesting read. For example, one jet airplane is describe as having spent many hours as a commercial jet for a major airline, servicing a route from west to east. Perhaps it was dismantled and shipped via truck for the westbound leg? Stupid, stupid errors...

    Finally, the book is a mismash of the Ryan universe; characters that died off books ago reappear; 9/11 is a major motivator, even though it never "happened" in the Ryan universe, while the major plot element of "Sum of All Fears" (far worse than our own 9/11), is never mentioned; the US is at war with Iraq, even though there was no GW Bush in Ryan's universe to start such a war. And so on.

    The book tries to be both a stand-alone novel as well as one that rests on the earlier works of Clancy -- back when Clancy actually wrote his own books, instead of paying someone else to do the heavy lifting. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it is a shadow of Clancy's earlier work.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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