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Troy

I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

ratings
230
REVIEWS
154
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
49
HELPFUL VOTES
308

  • True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal - and How Nearly Dying Saved My LIfe

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Kevin Sorbo
    • Narrated By Kevin Sorbo, Sam Sorbo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (76)

    On television, as the star of the popular Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Kevin Sorbo portrayed an invincible demi god. He relished living the part—putting in 14-hour days on set, doing his own stunts, and relentlessly working out at the gym. Until one day it all came to an abrupt end. Now, for the first time, Sorbo shares what viewers didn’t know: he suffered three strokes from an aneurysm in his shoulder and was left partially blind and entirely incapacitated at just 38 years old.

    Patricia says: "Easy Listening"
    "A Life-Changing Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book ranks right up there in my humble opinion with the books written by the late Christopher Reeve. It's the story of a man who had everything going for him - not because it was handed to him, but because he followed his dreams and worked for what he earned - only to see all of that and indeed his very life threatened just as his star was in ascension. This book is an honest recounting of his encounters with his own mortality, and the mixed blessings of what it truly means to be human. By "human," I'm talking about the demonstrations of fear, weakness, and helplessness, but I'm also talking about equal demonstrations of determination, contemplation, and the power of love. It's a triumph of the human spirit. Just as Dana Reeve was there for Chris, so too is Sam Sorbo the power behind this Hercules. Kevin Sorbo is one of those guys who tells it like it is, and this book is written with the voice of one friend to another. What's in this book isn't sugar coated, but nor is it exaggerated. It's simply an examination of how a man came to terms with his medical nightmares and pushed forward. It's a truly inspirational tale that will hit close to home on a number of levels, regardless of your own personal situation.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Frankenstein

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Mary Shelley
    • Narrated By Dan Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (192)
    Story
    (193)

    Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.

    Nancy says: "A great listen"
    "The Creature Lives!"
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    I pretty much cut my teeth on the classic monsters of the silver screen from Universal and Hammer Studios. Those old movies in turn helped me to discover books such as this one. As a kid, I used to find myself returning to the well as often as the movie studios do, for as everyone knows... the novel is ALWAYS better. And regardless of which monster is your favorite on screen, Frankenstein is the best written of them all when it comes to the original source material. That's not just opinion on my part. That's just the very nature of the beast. Between Shelley's considerable literary gifts and personal influences, perhaps it was inevitable that this novel should stand the test of time as one of the great proto-Gothic horror masterpieces.

    As my reading list has grown considerably wider since I was a kid, it's been a decade, perhaps more, since my last reading of Frankenstein. In those years, I've since better acquainted myself with Shelley's world and contemporaries such as her husband Percy, Lord Byron, Keats, et al, so I feel I've gained a deeper appreciation of the author and her circle through history and their own works. As a result, I feel it's been far too long since I revisited this story.

    But chances are, if you're reading this review, it may be that you're ready to read this story for the first time, and so you naturally want to know what to expect. Above and beyond all of praise I heap upon it, this book is a product of its time and place. It reads with all the flowery prose of the early 19th century, but it's by no means difficult reading as some novels of that time may be for modern readers. As to the story itself, Frankenstein has the distinction of not only being the source for so many fun horror movies, it's also the very science fiction novel. When this was written, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and the boundaries of what was possible culturally and scientifically were being pushed all the time. Long before Jurassic Park, Shelley dared to ask if humanity should open the doors we dared to open simply because we could. This classic is born of fear and despair, which is as real as the ink that flowed from Shelley's pen. Because of pop culture, it's so easy to take this story for granted, but it's precisely for that reason that this book needs to be experienced. It's depth will surprise you as you come to know Dr. Frankenstein and his equally intelligent Creature. If anything, for all of our social media, I find that the perceived isolation of our current generation is something that will likely resonate with modern readers.

    For this particular edition from Audible, Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens is an excellent choice for narrator. He lends his own brand of class and gravitas to this tale in a way that just works for me. He brings this venerable tale to life with the same depth and perception gifted to the Creature.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Scarlet Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jeanne Kalogridis
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased. Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the "triumph cards", the predecessor of modern-day Tarot.

    Troy says: "An Unfortunate Sideshow"
    "An Unfortunate Sideshow"
    Overall
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    Story

    Wanted to like this one as Caterina Sforza is easily one of the most fascinating people in Renaissance Italy, but I couldn't finish it. For starters, the book isn't about her, and that's my own fault for not taking other reviews to heart first. It's about her fictional, intolerably new-agey handmaiden Dea. I didn't pick this book to read about Dea, and I especially don't care about Dea's tarot readings as a plot device.

    At some point I may come back to this one and give it another try now that I know what to expect, but right now... so many better books await.

    Wanda McCaddon, by any name she uses, is always a superb narrator. Her talents are wasted on this one, but you can't win them all. I trust she got paid well anyway.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret History of Star Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Michael Kaminski
    • Narrated By Josh Robert Thompson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    The tale of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker has become modern myth, an epic tragedy of the corruption of a young man in love into darkness, the rise of evil, and the power of good triumphing in the end. But it didn't start out that way. In this thorough account of one of cinema's most lasting works, Michael Kaminski presents the true history of how Star Wars was written, from its beginnings as a science fiction fairy tale to its development over three decades into the epic we now know, chronicling the methods, techniques, thought processes, and struggles of its creator.

    Troy says: "Repetitive, but Thorough"
    "Repetitive, but Thorough"
    Overall
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    This would have been a 5 star work, save for the extreme repetition of facts. Ironically, the author thanks his editor up front, who probably should have been fired. This is such an issue that it probably could have reduced the size of the book by a third without loss of content.

    That said, this book is a wonderful companion work to J. W. Rinzler's equally incredible "Making of" volumes. This work covers the creative story development of the 6-film saga in full in such a way that no stone is left unturned, and gives us insights into the lives of the people involved, especially that of creator George Lucas. This work is so detailed that it breaks down every single version of the scripts, stage by stage. In this regard, this book is an absolute MUST for the die-hard uber-fans of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

    Not covered are the technical aspects, such as special effects, sound effects, or the musical scores.

    What is casually glossed over in the history is the infamous 1978 Holiday Special. There is some basic information on the Ewok movies as well as the Droids and Ewoks cartoon series, but nothing in-depth for these either.

    One point of weirdness: the narrator attempts impersonations of the various people who are quoted in interviews or various characters quoted in scripts. Some of these are passable and even respectable, and others are so far off base so as to be screwball if you know what the person is supposed to sound like.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sorcery Code: Volume 1: A Fantasy Novel of Magic, Romance, Danger, and Intrigue

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Dima Zales, Anna Zaires
    • Narrated By Emily Durante
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (203)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (188)

    Once a respected member of the Sorcerer Council and now an outcast, Blaise has spent the last year of his life working on a special magical object. The goal is to allow anyone to do magic, not just the sorcerer elite. The outcome of his quest is unlike anything he could've ever imagined - because, instead of an object, he creates Her.

    Ira says: "I'm Looking For Volume 2 Already"
    "Good Concept, But Too Simple"
    Overall
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    Story

    Since reading this one, I've been trying to figure out exactly what it was about this book that should have worked but didn't. I've come the conclusion that it's not any one thing in particular. The story is a simple and effective one, but I somehow I get the feeling it should go through more development. The concept is pretty straightforward, the accidental creation of a woman from pure magic. I almost hate drawing the comparison, but it's sort of the anti-Anakin Skywalker, created from the Force. And yet, I think this is where the trouble lies, not with the comparison, but with this book's overall story arc. Things seem far too easy for Gala, and I suppose they would as those in the world are completely unprepared to deal with someone of her magnitude. She almost seems like the perfect woman, with the exception of that extreme attitude switch when she doesn't get her way or feels challenged. And that's where the comparison to Anakin Skywalker comes in. It's not just the origin, it's the belief in his power. Remember, Skywalker started as a good kid too, and look how that turned out. The reason I draw this comparison is because when it comes to genre stories, many of them follow this kind of hero's journey or hero's fall and/or redemption. Gala has the potential to be sorcery's answer to Wonder Woman (who was also created by magic) or to be scary beyond all comprehension in a way Vader would envy. Both paths, or even something in between, offer a multitude of challenges in this world that we've not seen yet. Right now I don't have a bearing on where her trajectory is headed. I know where she'd like to go, but that's not really the same thing.

    On the whole, I didn't hate the story, but it didn't grab me either. It's like cooking - you start out with the idea of a quiche and end up making scrambled eggs because you're hungry now. The execution isn't nearly as big as the concept, and that may be because it suffered from being more of a romance novel and less of a fantasy novel with elements of romance in it, or it may be because of what I've already mentioned above. The other characters in the story... their backstories are more or less in place, but I'm not drawn to any of them yet. This is where I think further development would have helped. But having said that, I don't feel like I can give up on this one either. There's some untapped potential that could be harnessed, turning this series into something special. It'll take some work, but I don't think it's beyond grasp. Curiosity for Gala's future will bring me back someday.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dawn's Early Light: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Tee Morris, Pip Ballantine
    • Narrated By James Langton
    Overall
    (94)
    Performance
    (86)
    Story
    (86)

    After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States - intended to keep them out of trouble - suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

    Denise says: "Ends with a bang!"
    "Return of the Most Dangerous Duo in Steampunk!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I described the first book as the X-Files meets James Bond, Steampunk style. The sequel surprised me in that it kept up the pace and really expanded on the world and the characters, cementing this series' place as one of my favorites, and certainly my favorite Steampunk series to date.

    This third book... a little less X-Files, a lot more 007 - Roger Moore era, to be exact - and it's a glorious ride! As Books and Braun make their way to the rough and tumble United States, they join forces with their American counterparts to take on their scariest assignment yet. Someone has seemingly built Tesla's theoretical death ray, causing the destruction of dozens of ships in recent days. Our heroes have to fight the bad guys, the supergenius who's using them to his own aims, and each other, which forces the obligatory use of plenty of ammunition and explosives. Morris and Ballantine have knocked another one out of the park. It's impossible not to have fun with this series. I'm chomping at the bit for the 4th book, due out next year.

    Langton's voice performance is a bit - ok, a lot - cartoonish for the women, but once you get used to it, it works for the Roger Moore / Wild Wild West tone of the story. There are a couple of points where I noticed he'd use the wrong voice here and there, but given the seat-of-the-pants nature of the story and the number of characters he's juggling in certain scenes, I have to say I'm deeply impressed on the whole. There are some narrators that might not try that hard, and others that maybe wouldn't convey the sense of dramatic comedy this book carries. Besides, he narrated the first two, so it just wouldn't be the same without him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Richard Hooker
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (108)
    Performance
    (101)
    Story
    (98)

    Before the movie, this is the novel that gave life to Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and the rest of the gang that made the 4077th MASH like no other place in Korea or on earth. The doctors who worked in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) during the Korean War were well trained but, like most soldiers sent to fight a war, too young for the job. In the words of the author, "a few flipped their lids, but most of them just raised hell, in a variety of ways and degrees."

    Trish says: "I Wanted to Love it--and I DID!!"
    "Where the Story Truly Begins"
    Overall
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    Story

    Like so many, I grew up on the TV series and have seen the movie. This is my first encounter with the novel that started it all. I was by no means disappointed. It plays out pretty much as I expected, being that they used parts of it across the movie and a handful of episodes, and I readily enjoyed the scenes that remained unfilmed. The characters were both new and familiar at the same time, and by the end of it I felt I gained a greater appreciation for the story behind the story I thought I knew.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Marc Thompson, Jonathan Davis, Daniel Davis, and others
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare's Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Something Wookiee this way comes!

    Troy says: "Tis a Worthy Conclusion"
    "Tis a Worthy Conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've heard Verily A New Hope and The Empire Striketh Back, you already know what to expect. This falls right in line and completes the trilogy in its greatness. For those who have not yet experienced this... you're in for a treat. Shakespearean puns and mangled quotes run amuck through the galaxy far, far away, accompanied with all the ham-fisted, Monty Python style acting. And yet, there is another level of experience, as one would expect from reading the Bard's original works, so all of the drama and gravitas of the story is there to be had. Add in the familiar sound effects and classic John Williams music you remember, and this most unlikely mashup becomes a few hours of pure fun.

    But then, having enjoyed the previous two, I'm already biased. You've not experienced Shakespeare until you've heard him in the original Huttese, and the songs from Jabba's band and the Ewoks just drive this performance over the top. It's a blast.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution: 1763-1789

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs)
    • By Robert Middlekauff
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (261)
    Performance
    (182)
    Story
    (179)

    The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States, this critically-acclaimed volume - a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize - offers an unsurpassed history of the Revolutionary War and the birth of the American republic.

    John says: "Strong History Rich With Behind The Scenes Details"
    "A Full Story for the Enthusiast"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In gearing up for the upcoming July 4th holiday, I decided to revisit the Colonial effort for Independence. These days I think the hardest thing about finding a book that covers this subject is that politics often comes into play. Either the Founders can do no wrong, and their mission was ordained by Providence, or the story's focus will shift to spotlight the atrocities of the era such as slavery or the incompetence of command decisions. Fair and balanced is something that's difficult to find sometimes.

    But that's why this book impressed me. The personalities, the triumphs and tragedies, the tactics, the motivations, and the possible x-factors are played out with an emphasis on fact, assessment, and perspective. The character and backgrounds of the people involved are touched upon, but with just the broad strokes so as to keep the narrative going. What was especially invaluable to me was learning of the mindsets and political entanglements that led to the Boston Massacre and other such preliminaries, giving a more holistic look at events otherwise glossed over in most history classes. When the war is engaged, the logistical problems faced by the Continental Army are examined in terms a lay enthusiast can understand, with politics taking a back seat and filling in gaps.

    It could be argued that more detail could go into this book, and while I agree that it does leave a lot to be discovered, this volume is more dense than a simple beginner's history. There is nuance and detail to had here, which makes it an effective overview of the Revolution and its players. Any reader who wants more will be able to know easily what they felt was missing and what they want to delve into further. Again, what impresses me most is the balance. This isn't a dry book of basic facts, even if the battlefield issues occasionally overshadow other parts of the narrative. Where this book excels is by examining the questions and beliefs that we sometimes take for granted, reminding the reader what was at stake in the name of Revolution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dracula Tape: The New Dracula, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Fred Saberhagen
    • Narrated By Robin Bloodworth
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    The never-before-told story behind the legend of Count Dracula! The story of the Count’s greatest love, Mina Harker, and the bloodthirsty vampire hunters whose cruel pursuit drove the master of the night to actions ever more ruthless. The Count Dracula sets the record straight.…

    Amanda Pike says: "FINALLY!"
    "Dracula's Side of the Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dracula tells his own version of the familiar tale with a healthy dose of snark and conviction as he tries "once more" to set the record straight and redeem himself in the eyes of humanity. The result is a lot of fun. It's a considerably less serious take on the original Stoker classic, told in a manner that would almost seem like a parody of both the original novel and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, except it never really crosses into parody territory despite the humor. All in all, I'm now curious enough to see where the rest of the series goes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By James Shapiro
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (47)

    For nearly two centuries, the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays has been challenged by writers and artists as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, and Sir Derek Jacobi. How could a young man from rural Warwickshire, lacking a university education, write some of the greatest works in the English language?

    Geoffrey says: "Somewhat Surprised and very pleased"
    "The History of the Debate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The question of the Shakespearean "authorship problem" is addressed in a rather unique way here. The author comes right out and tells you that he believes in the idea that Shakespeare wrote his own works, but that the target of the book is instead to present a history of the debate itself, letting the very nature of the debate reveal its own merits and flaws. The cases for Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere are examined in depth, being representative of many of the other cases for alternate identity. The opinions of notables such as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Henry James, and many others are spotlighted and, in many cases, skewered as being ridiculous and unfounded. And yet, at the same time, the case for the Bard seems ever stacked against him due to a lack of supporting evidence and the ever-widening gap between what we know about him and what is revealed in his works. As a result, the process of how the problem has evolved over the course of time is as interesting as the problem itself.

    This book is easily accessible for both the casual reader as well as the scholarly-minded, so the curious at every level will have little difficulty taking it all in and walking away with more than they might have expected.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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