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S. Cushing

Drawing Enthusiast

Maryland, USA | Member Since 2012

11
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 26 ratings
  • 99 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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  • The Autobiography of Black Hawk

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Black Hawk
    • Narrated By Brett Barry
    Overall
    (1205)
    Performance
    (1037)
    Story
    (1030)

    This story is told in the words of a tragic figure in American history - a hook-nosed, hollow-cheeked old Sauk warrior who lived under four flags while the Mississippi Valley was being wrested from his people. The author is Black Hawk himself - once pursued by an army whose members included Captain Abraham Lincoln and Lieutenant Jefferson Davis. Perhaps no Indian ever saw so much of American expansion or fought harder to prevent that expansion from driving his people to exile and death.

    Darwin8u says: "A NO HOLD BARRED and unflinching narrative"
    "Not bad..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't mind this one but it didn't pull me in a lot either. It was interesting to hear a first hand account of the time period but that was about it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • One Shot: A Jack Reacher Novel, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2455)
    Performance
    (1717)
    Story
    (1735)

    Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: "You got the wrong guy". Then he says: "Get Reacher for me". And sure enough, from the world he lives in - no phone, no address, no commitments - ex-military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. In Lee Child's astonishing thriller, Reacher's arrival will change everything - about a case that isn't what it seems, about lives tangled in baffling ways, about a killer who missed one shot - and by doing so gives Jack Reacher one shot at the truth.

    Carol says: "Reacher said..."
    "Not Lee Child's best, but still worth a listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to two other Lee Child audiobooks and I've seen the movie version of One Shot, "Jack Reacher," with Tom Cruise. Compared to the others I've listened to, this one was a little too predictable. Everything is tied up with a bow at the end with Jack Reacher explaining it all to a bewildered group of listeners like a classic whodunit. There are a lot more scenes without Reacher in it than the other books in this series that I've sampled. Without this, it would be hard to understand the actions of the sinister Zek, so I suppose this is a good thing but it was a bit surprising when it first happened.

    I still enjoyed listening to it. Jack Reacher's character keeps me listening and Dick Hill's narration strikes the perfect note in bringing it across to the listener. There are some great twists, the least of which is Reacher starting out wanting to "bury" the shooter, not exonerate him, at the beginning of the book.

    This may be blasphemy to hardcore fans, but I actually think the movie improved on the book by trimming the character list, simplifying the plot and having a more believable showdown at the end. Yes, Tom Cruise is a bit of a miscast but he pulls off the main thrust of Lee Child's protagonist even if he doesn't have the stature.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars (Dramatized)

    • ORIGINAL (5 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By George Lucas, Brian Daley (adaptation)
    • Narrated By Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels
    Overall
    (1037)
    Performance
    (712)
    Story
    (713)

    This landmark production, perhaps the most ambitious radio project ever attempted, began when Star Wars creator George Lucas donated the story rights to an NPR affiliate. Writer Brian Daley adapted the film's highly visual script to the special demands and unique possibilities of radio, creating a more richly textured tale with greater emphasis on character development.

    Matthew says: "Beyond the film..."
    "Great listen for Star Wars fans..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was really a great listen for Star Wars fans. Even though only a couple of the actors are originals, the dramatized format does a good job of replicating the excitement and drama of the movie. All the great lines from the film are maintained though many scenes are elaborated to give more depth to the interactions and to make up for what the listener cannot see. I particularly enjoyed the extra material concerning Luke's piloting at home and his jedi training with Ben Kenobi. In nearly all cases, the extra material filled in gaps and explained actions that were largely inexplicable in the movie. It really felt like watching an extended cut of the movie in my car as I listened during each day's commute to work.

    Keeping the original score in this audiobook and playing the relevant bits during vital scenes helped to remind me that the biggest star of the original movie was John Williams' music. The story would be much diminished without it.

    The only downside was the lack of editing, as many other reviewers have complained, to remove the end credits and intro for each episode of the original 30-minute long programs. Perhaps there was some contractual reason to keep it in, but it is quite annoying to have the action stop every 30 minutes for 5 minutes of filler. Still, the overall experience is worth overlooking this.

    The overall experience is comparable to seeing the original film. If you don't care for the movie, you probably won't enjoy this. If you do like the movie, you probably will.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Crime and Punishment

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnett (translator)
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (473)
    Performance
    (312)
    Story
    (313)

    In this intense detective thriller instilled with philosophical, religious, and social commentary, Dostoevsky studies the psychological impact upon a desperate and impoverished student when he murders a despicable pawnbroker, transgressing moral law to ultimately "benefit humanity".

    Mubarak says: "Excellent Excellent Excellent!"
    "I tried but couldn't get through it..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got through the first 1/3 of this audiobook but couldn't get myself to move on to the next file. Why do classics have to be so tough like this? I kept some interest while Raskolnikov planned out his murder and executed it but then things slowed down as he dealt with the guilt of his crimes. Dostoevsky's writing seems to meander going off on these tangents of thought like stream-of-consciousness writing that does a good job of representing the feverish state of the main character. However, the writing just didn't pull me in. I didn't CARE about any of the characters. My initial interest in seeing what the big deal was with this much lauded author and my interest in seeing him delve into the psychology of crime slowed waned. Raskolnikov seemed like a parody of melodrama with all his swooning and mood swings. Maybe the story improves a lot after the point where I stopped but I could easily see it going on and on in the same fashion until my joy for audiobooks completely drained away. Maybe I've been too spoiled by plot-driven modern literature to appreciate classics like this, I don't know.

    On the other hand, Heald the narrator, does an excellent job of bringing such tough material to life. He throws in mannerisms and affectations in his speech to push his work from mere narration to true character creation. Unfortunately, his narration skills weren't enough to keep me listening to this one. I'll have to find out what else he's narrated though.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Susan Cain
    • Narrated By Kathe Mazur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3979)
    Performance
    (3425)
    Story
    (3402)

    At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

    Teddy says: "Thought provoking and Uplifting.... A++++++++!!!!!"
    "Enlightening discussion of introversion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was a little unsure when I selected this book. I was afraid that it would have a lot of fluff (typical for self-help books) or a lot of "introvert good, extrovert bad!" logic or not a lot to back up its claims. I was wrong on all accounts. Susan Cain gives extroverts there fair due. She also cites lots of research, not just anecdotal evidence. Her book covers many angles from corporate culture to our education system to raising introverts to psychology. It felt very thorough and I came away from reading it feeling like I understood American culture and myself better than before I had read it. That's the best you can ask for from a book like this. In case it's significant of my bias, I do consider myself an introvert. My original impulse for reading this book was all the pressure I'm getting at work to conform to an extrovert standard that doesn't suit me. I suppose I wanted a book to help me vent. :)

    Kathe Mazur did a fine job of narration though I can't say this book stretched her skills. She certainly wasn't boring but I don't know if that's attributed to her or the text.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Hobbit

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8980)
    Performance
    (8071)
    Story
    (8207)

    Like every other hobbit, Bilbo Baggins likes nothing better than a quiet evening in his snug hole in the ground, dining on a sumptuous dinner in front of a fire. But when a wandering wizard captivates him with tales of the unknown, Bilbo becomes restless. Soon he joins the wizard’s band of homeless dwarves in search of giant spiders, savage wolves, and other dangers. Bilbo quickly tires of the quest for adventure and longs for the security of his familiar home. But before he can return to his life of comfort, he must face the greatest threat of all.

    Darwin8u says: "Victory after all, I suppose!"
    "Fun listen, but too much singing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The story is entertaining. The best parts to me were the big conversations between major characters, like Gollum and Bilbo or Smaug and Bilbo. The fight scenes aren't really as exciting or dramatic as what I'm used to with modern fantasy. Tolkien tends to summarize and tell you what's going on instead of showing you. Some of that might be the "storyteller style" that Tolkien uses, occasionally interrupting with narrator comments or alluding to other parts of the story.

    Rob Inglis does a good job overall with the narration with a couple exceptions. For one, his voice for Smaug didn't really hold up to Richard Boone's voicework for Smaug on the Hobbit cartoon, not that many people could. I suppose Inglis was going for a more fanciful interpretation where the dragon is funny as well as intimidating (and that's not out of line with Tolkien's writing) but Boone had the menace and "badassery" in his voice that I'll always remember.

    Second, there's all the singing. I completely understand Tolkien's use of poetic song in his writing. It echoes the verses of Beowulf and other early tales that were spoken before they were written down. However, it was decided for Rob Inglis to sing these lines instead of just speaking them so he had to make up some tuneless song for each one (I'm assuming) and it shows. These are not songs written by a conductor with Tolkien's words applied to them. These are poems recited in a sing-songy voice. For some of the shorter songs, I could deal but Tolkien tends to go on and on and so the songs go on and on. I could have done without those.

    Much like Return of the King, the ending of The Hobbit seems to stretch on longer than necessary after the adventure is done. Some people will like all the extra detail in Bilbo's trip home and some people will be waiting for Tolkien to wrap it up.

    Overall, worth the listen. Now I have to go see the new movie and compare. :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Paul S. Kemp
    • Narrated By Marc Thompson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1089)
    Performance
    (909)
    Story
    (907)

    The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic ramps up the action and brings listeners face-to-face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords: Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular “Deceived” and “Hope” game trailers. Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy....

    Conrado says: "Another Great Old Republic novel"
    "Just like watching a Star Wars movie..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my second Star Wars: The Old Republic audiobook and I enjoyed this one just as much as the first. Like many fans of the original movie trilogy, I was disappointed with the new trilogy. The language was awkward, the characters flat, and none of the grandeur I was expecting. Trying out these audiobooks has reinvigorated my love for Star Wars. The plots, characters and writing are much closer to what I would have liked from Episodes I, II, and III. We get to see inside the minds of vengeful Sith and heroic Jedi. We get to witness great battles of light-sabers and blasters and spaceships. Even though the story is compelling the real treat is all the sound effects. Not only does the narrator describe the fights to you but you get to hear every laser blast, every light-saber swing, every twittering droid. All the sound effects are the ones you've come to expect in the Star Wars universe. I found myself getting caught up with the story on every drive I took, more than I ever did with the new movie trilogy. It felt like watching a new Star Wars movie, only this one was well thought out with characters and stories that spoke to me. The performance really makes it for me.

    The story follows three main characters, each with their own character arch. You've got a Jedi, a Sith, and a smuggler. Their stories slowly come together for one big showdown. If you like Star Wars at all, you're pretty much guaranteed to enjoy this. For other science fiction fans who don't get a thrill from hearing a Sith lord speaking through a ventilator or light-sabers clashing together but still like a decent story, you'll probably enjoy this but not be blown away. Still, it's not a bad way to spend a few weeks' commute to work!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Seth Grahame-Smith
    • Narrated By Scott Holst
    Overall
    (6782)
    Performance
    (5162)
    Story
    (5242)

    While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

    Haden says: "My friends thought I was crazy."
    "I never thought I'd love this so much..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely loved this book. Who would have ever thought the historical truths of Abraham Lincoln and a rip-roaring vampire hunting adventure would go together so well. It's not written tongue-in-cheek at all even though the concept is so crazy. The serious nature of the writing, mimicking a historical biography in tone, manages to suspend your disbelief even as vampires are axed and slaves are drained of blood. Even with all the crazy stuff, the history is quite genuine which makes me feel like I'm learning something real about one of America's greatest presidents even as I thrill with the vampire hunting episodes.Grahame-Smith weaves the two together so that one minute you're hearing about Lincoln's debates with Stephen Douglas and the next minute Lincoln is off hunting another blood-sucker in the night.

    The narration was pretty good but it didn't stand out as strongly as the story. The narrator does manage to give Lincoln the kind of speech you'd expect from him even though the book isn't written with archaic language. After finishing this book I was simultaneously excited to listen to another Grahame-Smith book, find a "real" biography of Lincoln, and see the movie version!

    What to complain about? Well, if you don't like vampire stories or horror then you shouldn't try this one. If you can't wrap your brain around the concept of re-imagining a historic figure like this, then you'll probably never suspend your disbelief and you'll hate it. If you only read non-fiction, you may be offended by such a fanciful take. However, if you can enjoy serious history as well as not-so-serious fantasy, this mishmash of styles might be right up your alley. It certainly was for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • I, Claudius

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Robert Graves
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    Overall
    (1401)
    Performance
    (692)
    Story
    (696)

    Here is one of the best historical novels ever written. Lame, stammering Claudius, once a major embarrassment to the imperial family and now emperor of Rome, writes an eyewitness account of the reign of the first four Caesars: the noble Augustus and his cunning wife, Livia; the reptilian Tiberius; the monstrous Caligula; and finally old Claudius himself. Filled with poisonings, betrayal, and shocking excesses, I Claudius is history that rivals the most exciting contemporary fiction.

    Chris says: "Unsurpassed, addictive brilliance"
    "Surprised me - fun read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was worried this was going to be super boring. After trying to read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and giving up after a couple hundred pages, I wasn't sure how well I'd do with such a sprawling scope again. Fortunately, the protagonist is interesting and his plight in a family of cut-throat would be emperors is quite compelling, especially when you remind yourself that these were real people and these events did happen.

    I haven't seen the BBC miniseries for comparison but the narrator does a good job of representing poor Claudius and his ever-present stutter without taking you out of the story. There are times when Claudius (or the author?) digresses a little too much into the history of this or that or glosses over the sensory details that tend to pull a reader in but it is consistent with his character and I never got bored with the story even if my interest waxed and waned depending on the subplot.

    Having all of this history fictionalized was a great way to get involved in it and learn something I might not have read about on my own. The characters are quite well defined and compelling. After finishing this, I plan on reading the sequel sometime.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Joseph Delaney
    • Narrated By Christopher Evan Welch
    Overall
    (615)
    Performance
    (288)
    Story
    (296)

    Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope; the last apprentice. Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook's warning against girls with pointy shoes include Alice? And what will happen if Thomas accidentally frees Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the county?

    Mark says: "Loved it!"
    "Didn't work for me - thin characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This one didn't work for me. I guess I'm much older than the age group it's intended for but the characters just didn't interest me the way I wanted them to. Delaney creates a lot of atmosphere around his world and some interesting ideas about witches but the characters feel too thin. When the story was over, I couldn't see myself trying the next book. I just didn't care enough about them to see what happens next. Maybe a kid would be more enthralled than I was. Maybe there are just too many books out there with a timid boy protagonist, a strict disciplinarian mentor, and a feisty girl foil for the boy who may be a friend or an enemy. I was looking for another layer and never found it.

    Narration was fine. Welch creates an olde-time feel with his narration that suits the atmosphere quite well.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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