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Greg

Springfield, OR, United States | Member Since 2011

ratings
124
REVIEWS
26
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
56

  • Joseph Anton: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Sam Dastor, Salman Rushdie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (209)
    Performance
    (184)
    Story
    (179)

    On February 14, 1989, Valentine's Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been "sentenced to death" by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being "against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran". So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of a police protection team.

    Lynn says: "Informative, Timely"
    "Gripping and Fantasical"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Santanic Versea likely will be remembered as the most controversial book of the later half of 20th century for the shear amount of political controversy it illicited globally, worthy or not. But what happens when you write one of the the most controversial books of the century?

    Joseph Anton has the answer. Salmon Rushdie, in 3rd person, meanders through his entire life. Taking moments to ponder, life, love, religion and family from pre-fatwa to post. His journey takes him from his life as Salmon and his alias, Joseph, used under police protection.

    The story is one of preserveance, despite some of his own short comings... A story that has him bumping shoulders (or more accurately rubbed) by Margaret Thacter, chats with Bill Clinton, dinners with Tony Blair, friendships with Christopher Hitchens, and even Bono. Despite what might have been mistook as glamour and ego was a caged man, who was barely able to leave his own house and difficulties performing basic father tasks with his son.

    While Salmon, drops names frequently, to the point of blurring into the ether, what remains is story with personal victory with plenty off tragedy. Only knowing Salmon from appearances in the media, I finally was motivated to read one of his works and settled for the one that interested me the most. Having been narrowly old enough to claim to lived through the entire 80s, many of the books earlier events served as a portrait of the confusion of multiculturalism and a global society in a time I lived through but was not old enough to have meaningful comprehension. The extent of Iran's treachery even given today's misgivings is shocking, the British lack of desire to defend its own citizens is surprising and the global Islamophobia pandemic is current.

    Salmon is a harsh judge of himself but also holds himself with regard, likely the same dignity that kept him sane. I enjoyed this book immensely, as Rushdie is passionate, insightful, and charasmatic.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Year Zero: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Rob Reid
    • Narrated By John Hodgman
    Overall
    (1089)
    Performance
    (996)
    Story
    (995)

    Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it's a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news. The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity's music ever since "Year Zero" (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang.

    Robert says: "Fantastic Performance by Hodgman"
    "Aliens, sure whatever, let's go with that..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Year Zero starts off with a decent premise:

    The rest of the universe is wildly infatuated with our music after it was discovered in 1970 and then redistributed the music The catch is:. Aliens who reach a certain point in technology are part of a multi-stellar conglomerate of civilized worlds. Due to the level of technology required to be a civilized world, the creatures in the civilized worlds dedicate their lives to the pursuit of art and consume the art in the way that honors the culture that created it.

    Earth's intellectual property laws around music are unique. The copyright laws mean that the civilized worlds have been pirating our music, every song in existence for 40 years. Due to our overly egregious copyright laws (up to $150,000 USD per song) and the civilized world's deep commitment to the arts, the infractions threatened to bankrupt the entire universe.

    Its a good start, humorous in theory.... except it isn't. The power of earth music is so great that it caused massed die-offs in civilized worlds but because, y'know, because classic rock is that good... to all sentient life. The main character, a low level lawyer with name that is similar to a once famous pop-star (cue the laughs), is the point of contact with two very human aliens who immediately accepts the story presented by the aliens at face value.

    While its commentary on the cynicism of our IP laws in the world are entertaining and mild side-steps into pop culture and tech are clever, the story isn't so much. It's a bit of let down. The potential is there, but rarely capitalized on or explored. I'm not familiar with Rob Reid but this felt like a rookie novel as characters are pretty vanilla.

    John Hodgman does a decent job with the material, although occasionally an alien voice or two are slightly grating (but are described as such) and even kicks out a half-sung rendition of a boy-band ballad, which in the wrong hands, could have been abysmal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ark Royal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (268)
    Story
    (270)

    Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye. But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons.

    C. Hartmann says: "TWO (!!) audiobooks this year get SIX stars"
    "Good but not great; almost purely military sci-fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet (buying most on a whim during a sale), I've avoided military sci-fi. Campbell's one-dimensional, wooden characters combined with his over-usage of a few basic human interactions (I started to cringe each time I heard "smiled without humor") and snoozefest battles seem to the be gold standard of the sub-genre. I'm happy to say that Christopher G. Nuttall is a much more capable writer than Campbell. Ark Royal occasionally falls victim to a few repeated issues, a character who has a relationship with a younger character "old enough to be her father" was constantly restated to the point of awkwardness and it falls victim to standard military fiction tropes like "all reporters are idiots" and "all bureaucrats are morons". Ark Royal also doesn't venture too much out of safety, but none of the main characters are infallible, each with their own internal conflicts. The characters are much closer to actual people opposed the Lost Fleet. Overall, its a pretty minimalist sci-military fiction, there's no real exploration of the universe at large and minimal world building beyond just enough to get you into cockpit of the space battles.

    I picked this book up due to the comparisons to Battlestar Galactica. Beyond the obvious, an out-of-date carrier with a ruff and tumble crew, Ark Royal lacks the nuance or interplay between the enemy and humanity. I enjoyed the story but wasn't enamored by it either.

    Ralph Lister has a great guttural commanding voice but doesn't have much dexterity for conjuring up unique voices or inflections for each character. I wasn't annoyed or put off by him but I found myself wishing he had more range. He's better than average, and doesn't detract from the material but doesn't add to it either.

    I'll probably try out the second book in this series, perhaps it'll pick up steam.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Cibola Burn: The Expanse, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By James S. A. Corey
    • Narrated By Erik Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (219)
    Performance
    (208)
    Story
    (206)

    An empty apartment, a missing family, that's creepy. But this is like finding a military base with no one on it. Fighters and tanks idling on the runway with no drivers. This is bad juju. Something wrong happened here. What you should do is tell everyone to leave. The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonize has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Ilus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire.

    Striker says: "Decent Story, Lacking Good Narration"
    "Changing narrators is always dangerous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Erik Davis's narration isn't the worst but his staccato delivery, and lacking dexterity of Jefferson Mays is wildly apparently. Some of the humorous/sarcastic quips by characters are undelivered (in a series that actually has sometimes quite amusing dialogue despite the heavy tones) and voices are just so-so. Sometimes, I find his broken fragments jarring but I'm still able to focus, (where as I have had a few books were the reader completely made the book unlistenable).

    I am not a fan of Erik Davis and I'm unsure as to why the series would have been yanked from exceptionally talented Jefferson Mays, who made a great book even better (if it were pay, he's worth every penny and then some).

    The analogy I'd use is having a super star actor to be substituted by an unknown from your community theater. Even if the performance is good, its just not the same... and sadly Erik Davis's performance isn't as good either.

    There's no love lost for writing duo for the Expanse as authors rarely have much of a say in matters such as this.


    Spoiler free

    The book is fine and quite enjoyable as morality ambiguity where neither side exactly begs for sympathy and the always-moral Holden has to navigate a situation that tests him.

    I worried that The Expanse might not have much more to go on after Book 3's ending that gave what I thought might be a series end. Instead, it looks like there's plenty to explore with the Rocinante.

    Holden seems a little more cynical and also a little more fearful after everything he's experienced. Amos Burton is colder and harsher. Naomi Nagata confidence seems to gotten the better of her, each character internalizing the events of their previous adventures differently.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Harry S. Truman: A Life

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Robert H. Ferrell
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Few U.S. presidents have captured the imagination of the American people as has Harry S. Truman. In this new biography, Robert H. Ferrell, widely regarded as an authority on the 33rd president, challenges the popular characterization of Truman as a man who rarely sought the offices he received, revealing instead a man who - with modesty, commitment to service, and basic honesty - moved with method and system toward the presidency.

    Greg says: "Academic, occasionally dry but worth the listen"
    "Academic, occasionally dry but worth the listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having burned through several biographies (Hamilton, Einstein,Robert J Oppenheimer and four separate books on Theodore Roosevelt) it was time for me to branch to another historical figure. Harry S Truman fascinated me but I only had the history 101 treatment of Truman: successor to Franklin, made the decision to drop the A-bomb, and headed up the beginnings of the containment strategy of communism starting with the Korea War.

    Harry S. Truman: A Life is a bit duller than most of the other biographies I read, where books like The Big Burn and The River of Doubt unfold like page-turning novels or the reader is left amazed by the brevity of details like in the case of Oppenheimer (ultimately making the reader wonder how he or she would have handled being accused of communism). Truman: A life mostly reports the events as they happened. The biography is at its best when the authors take stands on interpretations of events, such as Truman's decision to use the nuclear bomb option on Japan or Truman's stance on the Korean War, or Truman's disdain for McCarthy and critical of his lack of action. A personal mild criticism also comes in the when some of his more human moments underplayed such as when he asked the formerly disgraced Herbert Hoover to head up humanitarian aid to Europe post war.

    The lack of edge comes to a close at the death of Hoover which simply reads his tombstone and closes without any further words, which feels cold and detached. There's no closing statements about the life of Harry S. or about what became of his widowed wife, his daughter and much about the historical weight of his presidency other than in early portions of the book. Character profiles of anyone outside of Truman are brief, his wife whom he was clearly dedicated to and his daughter feel like footnotes and accessories. By outward appearances, he was pretty close to them but the book failed to make much impression beyond that. Quite simply put, the title, "Harry S Truman, a life" is pretty accurate as its his life and hardly much beyond that. The best biographies often delve into the lives of other important people close the main subject to help better understand him/her (and it make usually for a better read).

    Also to add to the sometimes anti-climatic nature of the biography, is Jeff Riggenbach, reads in a very academic measure, rarely using much variance of inflection to give quotes much weight or adding more life to the subject. He's clear, easy to listen to and a pleasant enough reader but lacks any flair, sad since Truman had some pretty great off the cuff quotes, and remembered as one of our most quotable presidents for his a-little-too-honest-for-politics remarks.

    At times it was laborious to get through portions as names of cabinet members fly in rapid succession and other times I found myself truly enjoying the book. As far as biographies of Harry, A Life is "Where the buck stops". It could be better but it could be worse.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Woken Furies

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1270)
    Performance
    (529)
    Story
    (534)

    Richard K. Morgan has received widespread praise for his astounding 25th-century novels featuring Takeshi Kovacs, and has established a growing legion of fans. Mixing classic noir sensibilities with a searing futuristic vision of an age when death is nearly meaningless, Morgan returns to his saga of betrayal, mystery, and revenge, as Takeshi Kovacs, in one fatal moment, joins forces with a mysterious woman who may have the power to shatter Harlan's World forever.

    Jeri says: "I should have known better..."
    "Some bad choices...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First and foremost, William Dufris is a great audiobook narrator and has read quite a few books in my library. Normally I consider him one of the absolute best.

    That said, this isn't Dufris finest performance, and its never good mojo to switch readers in a series if the previous reader did a good job.

    Secondly, while audio effects aren't always bad, there's some exceptionally poor choices here, with an effect that drones on and on, what sounds like a bad flanger + reverb over the voice to note certain interactions. Its distracting and pulls you from the story as it makes the book harder to understand.

    Also beyond the narration Woken Furies feels meandering and aimless at times. Where as the first book really explored the the repercussions and a new interstellar universe, mostly dictated by the ability to transfer information at beyond-the-speed-of-light while faster-than-light speed wasn't possible, and the second book really focused on the ideas of humans and the exploration of the remnants of an alien civilization, Woken Furies seems to be locked solely in its own mythos of a departed revolutionary.

    As a whole, Woken Furies seems decidedly unfocused, Kovacs is on a revenge-quest against a religious extremist group which makes for entertaining first portion of the book but the revenge-quest seems to rapidly dissipate. With a large rotating cast of characters (not necessarily a bad thing) only muddies the plot.

    Due to some of the issues with the audiobook itself and the plot, this may have been better read than listened to. I didn't hate it but I lacked motivation to finish it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steel World: Undying Mercenaries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By B. V. Larson
    • Narrated By Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1565)
    Performance
    (1456)
    Story
    (1464)

    In the 20th century Earth sent probes, transmissions, and welcoming messages to the stars. Unfortunately, someone noticed. The Galactics arrived with their battle fleet in 2052. Rather than being exterminated under a barrage of hell-burners, Earth joined their vast Empire. Swearing allegiance to our distant alien overlords wasn't the only requirement for survival. We also had to have something of value to trade, something that neighboring planets would pay their hard-earned credits to buy. As most of the local worlds were too civilized to have a proper army, the only valuable service Earth could provide came in the form of soldiers....

    D says: "Classic Space Opera"
    "A sibling to Starship Troopers and Old Man's War"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Steel World is certainly inspired by other "troops in space" themed romps but its still enjoyable and certainly clever enough to keep me interested. Military Sci-Fi isn't my personal brand of sci-fi as authors tend to care more about gear/explosions/tactics more than story and character development (See the incredibly wooden Lost Fleet series for a textbook example) but Steel World delivers.

    Its not quite as sharp as the Old Man's War series but still manages to be funny, action packed, gorey and it crafts a reasonably interesting world where there's still a rational why ground troops would even be a factor in a universe inhabited by interstellar spacefaring races.

    While you won't quite find the supposition and philosophical exploration of the societal impacts of being able to 'relife' as you might find in a Peter F Hamilton book, the repercussions are still addressed.

    I haven't read other BV Larson books but I'll certainly be picking up the next book in the Undying Mercenaries series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Contact

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Carl Sagan
    • Narrated By Laurel Lefkow
    Overall
    (290)
    Performance
    (264)
    Story
    (267)

    The future is here...in an adventure of cosmic dimension. In December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future - and our own.

    A. Ferguson says: "Great book, significant differences from the movie"
    "Worth a listen, even if the regrettable ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Roughly the last hour is a detriment to an otherwise fantastic and forward thinking book. Sagan's ability to tap into critiques of science academia's views on gender-roles pertaining to the lead character to large scope astrophysics in a cohesive manner is impressive. Sagan, obviously comfortable as an author, fiction or non-fiction, lost me at the end with a little too thick of pan-humanist religious idealism.It felt like pandering to the religious majority. While the book certainly takes Sagan's fantasy of what clearly is his ultimate dream, and explored, the ending lasted perhaps a few chapters too long, and found me wishing for it to stop as humanity magically holds all the cards (or fingers) to unlocking the secrets of the universe meant specific for us. Very much worth a listen, even if the regrettable ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Abaddon's Gate

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By James S.A. Corey
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays
    Overall
    (667)
    Performance
    (623)
    Story
    (621)

    The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

    Greg says: "The worst part is waiting for book 4"
    "The worst part is waiting for book 4"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For a book series with a rumored TV adaptation, the 3rd book arrived on Audible with little fanfare. I awaited and searched for release dates for months only to randomly discover it on Audible last week, lacking proper cover art or any features on the website. (For any audible employees reading, a favorite authors system would be great). That said its finally here and it's wonderful to have.

    There isn't much reason to justify The Expanse if you've already read the first two books (and if you're like me, you've read the short stories. It's a rich and strangely believable universe of humans and space, where the fab team that make up James S.A. Corey never loose sight of the humans of the story. Having made my attempts at other popular sci-fi series, The Expanse feels rich, detailed and populous, without the extremes hardware worship or the obsessively dry space battles. Its easily my favorite series (besting my previous favorite of Peter F Hamilton's neurotically complex commonwealth series)

    This go around rotates the cast, Bobbie and the wonderfully foul-mouthed Chrisjen are absent with new characters, Anna, an immigrant priest with strongly defined moral compass as much as James Holden, and Bull, a tough-as-nails chief security officer on the Behemoth, as replacements. True to form, each adds to the colorful and blossoming cast of The Expanse, although neither quite trump the cast they're filling in for.

    Without spoiling much, the ride is exciting although doesn't quite hit the sensational horror of the first novel or the intensity of the second. This isn't to say its lost itself but the arch pertaining to the proto-molecule is largely explained, and while clever, isn't as surprising as some of the other twists in the previous books, especially in the wonderfully unpredictable fashion of the first two. I will give credit where credit is due, as the mystery isn't compounded into irrelevance not is it drawn out to insignificance. Pulling off the big reveal is always difficult and the Expanse does it well. Any additions to the series will now face a new arch.

    The book's end stops a few chapters too early but the best entertainment always leaves you wanting more.

    I look forward to seeing what the next books will be like.


    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition): An Oral History of the Zombie War

    • ABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Max Brooks
    • Narrated By Max Brooks, Alan Alda, John Turturro, and others
    Overall
    (2891)
    Performance
    (2738)
    Story
    (2741)

    World War Z: The Complete Edition is a new recording of Max Brooks’ best-selling novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, featuring 21 additional Hollywood A-list actors and sci-fi fan favorites performing stories not included in the original edition. New narrators include Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, Spiderman star Alfred Molina, The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, rapper Common, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg, and members of the casts of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and more!

    Kim Venatries says: "A Good Story with an All Star Cast but ABRIDGED"
    "Amazing performances..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Its hard to find any fault with the performances in World War Z, each segment voiced by separate voice actor, lending credence to the oratory nature of the story telling. Audible doesn't list the full voice actor roster, which includes notables like Nathon Fillion, Denise Crosby and Common.

    Where the story falls short is some of the silliness (Zombies can survive indefinitely on the bottom of the sea without being crushed and survive being frozen yet can be subdued with blunt force!?). Outside of a few logical stop-gaps that interrupt the suspension of disbelief, its a fun "What if..." scenario.

    I enjoyed the book, when it waxes table philosophy on the concept of total war or why Cuba bested the rest of the world when it came to the Zombie apocalypse but not enough that I'd be inclined to jump further in the zombie genre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Storm Surge: Destroyermen, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Taylor Anderson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (590)
    Performance
    (552)
    Story
    (549)

    In the Pacific, as USS Walker is repaired and updated after a previous battle and Reddy is healing from his wounds, planning begins for a bold raid on the very heart of the Grik Empire. But time is running out for the Alliance army in India, and the Allied forces in the west must gather in an unprecedented land, air, and sea campaign to destroy the mighty Grik battle fleet and break through to their relief. All other plans go on hold when the attempt proves more difficult - and more heartbreakingly costly - than anyone imagined.

    Greg says: "Long in tooth..."
    "Long in tooth..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After a year away from Taylor Anderson's "other earth", I'm starting to wait less eagerly at the next book in the series. Its fun, irreverent and entertaining and the expanding world is interesting but between the meat of the pages, I kept waiting for more ground to be covered. With a cast that now easily spans beyond a few dozen, I'd expect the novels to expand to fit the multiple plot lines and/or move slightly faster.

    As much as the inner kid in me loves in the idea of dinosaur piloted zeppelins duking it out with a fleet of vintage WWII boats and planes piloted by Humans and Lemurs, I'm worried by the end I'll of experienced too much of a good thing.

    There's only so many times Walker, Mahan Salissa and Catalina can make death defying escapes. Only so many Human enclaves that seem feasibly to be "off the grid" as far as the Grik and Lemurians are concerned and only so many antics that sideshow (stooges) trio of Dennis, Larry and Moe can perform.... before all the troupes are tired.

    I'm all for this series but I'd like to see it wrap up. Perhaps an end could lead to more adventures but for now I just want the feeling that this series has a conclusion.... even if just for a moment.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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