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David

Professor of American and World History at a community college. Enjoys hard science fiction, space fantasy and space opera, fantasy, and historical narratives. Heck, I'll read anything once!

Penfield, NY, United States | Member Since 2013

5
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 20 ratings
  • 127 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • The Zimmermann Telegram

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    Overall
    (285)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (202)

    In the dark winter of 1917, as World War I was deadlocked, Britain knew that Europe could be saved only if the United States joined the war. But President Wilson remained unshakable in his neutrality. Then, with a single stroke, the tool to propel America into the war came into a quiet British office. One of countless messages intercepted by the crack team of British decoders, the Zimmermann telegram was a top-secret message from Berlin inviting Mexico to join Japan in an invasion of the United States.

    Mike From Mesa says: "US entry to World War I"
    "History for the Non-Historian"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Zimmermann Telegram in three words, what would they be?

    Concise, clear, and understandable.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    As a work of non-fiction, there really aren't characters per se. However, Tuchman's ability to convey the individual habits and traits of the many, MANY historical figures she introduces us to is wonderful. I am a historian myself and I found her portrayals and insights into the various movers and shakers (as it were) of the Zimmerman Telegram incident and the whole run up to it to be quite useful and informative.


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

    She is able to convey the subtle wit, humor, and irony the author clearly intends in several passages. History is often dry--Tuchman's work is far from it and McCaddon's performance brings it even further to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    While it didn't make me laugh or cry, there were several times where I had a "whoa!" moment. I've studied this period and even taught it and this book revealed to me many things I had not known before.


    Any additional comments?

    For the lay fan of history, this is an excellent introduction to a period of World War I that most people overlook or simply gloss over. America's involvement in the war was strictly secondary, yet its potential involvement was HUGE for both sides. Tuchman portrays the myriad schemes, plots, and intrigues in a concise, clear manner that is both easily followed and complete. For the historian, she provides a wealth of detail so rarely discussed in other works. An excellent "read" for either group.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Daedalus Incident

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Michael J. Martinez
    • Narrated By Kristin Kalbli, Bernard Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (68)

    Mars is supposed to be dead. Bizarre quakes are rumbling over the long-dormant tectonic plates of the planet, disrupting its trillion-dollar mining operations and driving scientists past the edges of theory and reason. However, when rocks shake off their ancient dust and begin to roll seemingly of their own volition carving canals as they converge to form a towering structure amid the ruddy terrain, Lt. Jain and her JSC team realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. The only clues they have stem from the emissions of a mysterious blue radiation, and a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself.

    Ethan M. says: "I wanted to love this more, but still solid..."
    "Well Woven Story-lines"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Daedalus Incident again? Why?

    Absolutely. The two readers were excellent, the story was solid, and the way Martinez wove the two separate story-lines into a coherent whole was excellent. Plus, there's the possibility of follow-up novels.


    What other book might you compare The Daedalus Incident to and why?

    I've read a lot of Steampunk (though this doesn't quite fit the mold). I've read quite a bit of bad Naval Fiction, and not a small amount of good. This bridges the two. Imagine a Gaslight/Steampunk world (but based on alchemy, not steam) crossed with a modern detective story ... then spread it across the solar system. It's a melange I really can't compare to anything else.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There are a myriad of good scenes in the book. Arguably, I'd have to say the meeting with the Zon (Xon? Zhon?) is one of the best because so rarely does an author do exposition well. It's often necessary to convey information to the reader, but the tendency to just Tell quickly to get back to the story rather than show is always there. I think of David Weber and, to a lesser extent, Ringo and even Niven (but especially Weber) with the occasional Holy Infodump. The revelation on Saturn was well done rather than just twenty-pages (minutes) of exposition.


    Any additional comments?

    Solid book. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in something genuinely new-feeling.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Steelheart

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Macleod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6280)
    Performance
    (5861)
    Story
    (5884)

    Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father.

    D says: "He got the idea from a near traffic accident"
    "Comic book minus pictures = Still a good book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Steelheart?

    This isn't the first novel I've read that tried to bring super-heroes to the literary page (sans images). I will say that it's the best. There were genuine moments of tension, a solid set of sub-plots, and the odd comic-book trope done well.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Steelheart?

    Everyone expects the final confrontation to be The Big Sell in a novel like this. In truth, I found the beginning more satisfying than the end. It's a comic book, and we all know how THEY end (with a few exceptions)--even when it's the first part in a series. But, the mystery involved from the very beginning is EXCELLENT, and the payoff at the end is strong.


    Which character – as performed by Macleod Andrews – was your favorite?

    While the main character of David is "on-screen" as it were the most, it is a 1st Person novel, after all, I actually found both Megan and Prof to be more interesting characters. I guess David's just a bit too much the comic-cliche.


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

    "David is the only person to ever see Steelheart bleed and live. He will see him bleed again."


    Any additional comments?

    The only real short-coming in this book is the new slang terms. The world feels authentic--the existence of New 'Cago, Calamity itself, and all the other elements feel well-established. But the slang (slontz, sparks, etc.) just feel added in to generate a feeling of "this ain't Kansas no more." It's amusing that I was able to suspend my disbelief regarding the presence of super-heroes and super-powers, but every time I heard one of those faux-curses I jolted out of the narrative. I'll buy people with invulnerability powers but NOT that slang can change so far and so fast in just 10 years.But, that's more of a nit-pick than anything else.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4986)
    Performance
    (4586)
    Story
    (4583)

    Acclaimed author Michael J. Sullivan created instant best sellers with his spellbinding Riyria Revelations series. This first volume introduces Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy bigger than they can imagine, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery - before it’s too late.

    Magpie says: "Two books in one - keep listening!!"
    "The Usual Fantasy Tropes ... but Done Well"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This was an enjoyable book. It tries to walk the fine line between classic fantasy and the newer, Game of Thrones inspired political intrigue / everyone's a bad guy (and no-one thinks that about themselves) style of fantasy. It bridges the two fairly effectively, but tends to drift towards the classic fantasy elements more--which is good! There are genuinely good characters in this book, and virtue and heroism ARE rewarded with something other than a knife in the back.


    Would you recommend Theft of Swords to your friends? Why or why not?

    It's a good palate-cleanser after OD'ing on Game of Thrones and other darker, more gritty fantasy.


    What about Tim Gerard Reynolds’s performance did you like?

    TG Reynolds' performance was good in that each of his characters had a memorable voice AND a subtly different accent. Sure, some of the accents were cliche (where is it written that all Dwarves are Scotsmen??!?) but then, so are many of the tropes and elements of the book, so that fit.


    Was Theft of Swords worth the listening time?

    Quite worth it. Could it have been better? Sure--but, it was a good way to spend some quality time with an interesting world and interesting characters. It's also nice to see a fantasy world where the Wise Old Mentor character spends most of his time NOT revealing things rather than simply existing as Exposition Man.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm looking forward to the next one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dune

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Frank Herbert
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9449)
    Performance
    (5141)
    Story
    (5213)

    Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud'dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

    Joshua says: "Wonderful production!"
    "A Cast Performance ... lacking a cast performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Dune? What did you like least?

    Dune was one of the first books I remember reading, an old classic introduced to me by my father more than 30 years ago. Loved it then, love it still. The story remains excellent.

    Unfortunately, this "All Star Cast" presentation of the book does NOT add to the experience. You expect each character to be consistently voiced by their designated actor. They are not. In many scenes, the entire narrative and all characters are voiced by Scott Brick. In other scenes, the characters have individual voice actors (the gentleman performing the Baron is outstandingly menacing). It's not consistent and the shift from actor to general narrator and back--often in the SAME SCENE--is too jarring.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There are many characters to love in this book. In many ways I think Stilgar, a secondary character, may be my favorite. It's rare that a supporting character really SUPPORTS the protagonist instead of simply supporting the narrative.


    Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

    The primary narrator, sure. The others, sure. All together like this again? Probably not.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Altered Carbon

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3302)
    Performance
    (1518)
    Story
    (1527)

    In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

    Jake Williams says: "Altered Carbon"
    "Science Fiction Noir ... with a Matrix Twist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Altered Carbon the most enjoyable?

    I found Richard K. Morgan's world and his unabashed expectation that the reader keep up to be quite refreshing. So many science fiction and fantasy novels go to extreme lengths to explain the technology, sociology, or general "world" of the story that it can get boring. The Holy Infodump can really get in the way of the story. Morgan doesn't do that. Much of the technology presented in the book (and the concept of sleeves is ESSENTIAL to the story) is just presented as a given. He challenges the reader to keep up, explaining only the core bits and only just enough to let the reader follow along. It's wonderful to actually DISCOVER for a change!


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's intricate, but not tricky. The characters are all interesting, even those not meant to be sympathetic. And, despite it being a 1st Person story, there's just enough introspection to provide the reader with a grounding and not so much that it becomes maudlin or moralizing.


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

    I'm certain I'd have loved the book on the page as much as the audio version. McLaren provides a good, steady reading. It doesn't improve the story, but it doesn't have to.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Well, I'm curious about Morgan's next book. Does that count? :)


    Any additional comments?

    If this was truly a debut novel, then Richard K. Morgan is either quite talented or quite lucky. Either way, he's got a lot to live up to from here-on out!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Maltese Falcon

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Dashiell Hammett
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    Overall
    (797)
    Performance
    (323)
    Story
    (320)

    Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade is hired to locate a client's sister by tailing the sister's companion. Spade's partner Miles Archer takes on the assignment, and quickly both Archer and the man he was shadowing are murdered. As Spade pursues the mystery of his partner's death, he is drawn into a circle of colorful characters, and they are all after a legendary statuette of a falcon that had long ago been made for King Charles of Spain. Encrusted with jewels, it is worth a fortune.

    Jim says: "A little overacted"
    "Don't often say this - but, watch the movie instea"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I've always been interested in the old, classic noir books like those by Hammett, Spillane, and others. So, when this one came up for my listening pleasure I was prepared to get right into it.Unfortunately, I turned out to be not much of a fan. My biggest problem with the book is the author's portrayal of women--none of the female characters are relatable or, even in the case of Spade's secretary, particularly likeable. The audio performance does NOT help as Mr. Dufris appears to go for whiney rather than pleading when portraying desperation.I'm also quite annoyed with the ending. Everything Hammett does in the final confrontation seems to imply one ending. It virtually shouts it. Then, zoink, nope, new direction.Of course, I guess it WOULD have been unusual to have the villainess win in the end.


    What could Dashiell Hammett have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Hammett was a product of his times. His misogynist, unsympathetic portrayal of women is something I would love for him to have changed--it's just not realistic to have that expectation of someone writing in this genre during that decade. His portrayal of two clearly homosexual characters is, if anything, even LESS flattering!


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

    Unfortunately, what he brings to the book is more of a negative than a positive. His performance is actually quite good ... but only when it comes to the male characters. His tone and the voice he chose for the female characters flatters none of them. He appears to have chosen whiney as the base format, with a side of breathy desperation. Of course, the writing is so unsympathetic to begin with that it would be hard to play these characters well as written on the page.


    Was The Maltese Falcon worth the listening time?

    I'm glad I listened to it once, just to get a handle on the author and as an example of the genre. I won't be listening to it again.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Call of the Wild

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Jack London
    • Narrated By Mike Boris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (142)

    Jack London's masterpiece, tells the gripping tale of a dog named Buck who is wrenched out of his life of ease and luxury to become a sled dog in Alaska. Drawing on his wolf heritage, Buck must fight for survival in an alien environment.

    Duane says: "A Heart warming story.."
    "I can't believe I never listened to this before!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Call of the Wild again? Why?

    Absolutely. It's one of those beautifully written, beautifully performed stories that can continue to touch. It's a product of a different time, so the style and some of the characterizations take getting used to, but it's still profoundly eloquent and moving.


    What other book might you compare The Call of the Wild to and why?

    I'd have to compare it to other classic literature. And, so far as the classics on audio go, this is the best one I've listened to so far!


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

    There's a sense of personality to Buck and a sense of urgency to the story that otherwise might be lost in the narrative. This story is written to be read aloud--it's almost an epic poem but in narrative rather than lyrical form. Read on the page, it just wouldn't be the same. Mike Boris' performance is excellent, his voice just the right timbre for the story.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Neither laugh nor cry, no. But it did make me slap my forehead and ask myself why I hadn't read this before. Thank goodness THIS was my first exposure to it!


    Any additional comments?

    Good story. Good performance. Good length. A perfect long-drive book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Lynne Olson
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (63)

    At the center of the debate over American intervention in World War II stood the two most famous men in America: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who championed the interventionist cause, and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who as unofficial leader and spokesman for America's isolationists emerged as the president's most formidable adversary. Their contest of wills personified the divisions within the country at large, and Lynne Olson makes masterly use of their dramatic personal stories to create a poignant and riveting narrative.

    C. Telfair says: "Incivility in Politics - A Real Shocker!"
    "Informative, Unexpected, and Interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Those Angry Days rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I've listened to several non-fiction, historical works on audio over the years. This is in my top five, mostly for the depth of information presented without getting lost in minutia. The reader's performance (Robert Fass) is solid enough and does not distract from the information which is the real star here.


    What other book might you compare Those Angry Days to and why?

    In many respects, this book reminded me of The Zimmerman Telegram. Not in content or historical period of course. Those Angry Days is about the late 1930s, The Zimmerman Telegram about World War I. What makes me compare them is the depth of information I didn't know.

    I'm both a student and professor of history. I've done quite a bit of study and research into the periods in both books, and they both offered up to me quite a bit of information I did not know. Those Angry Days did so even more than I could have expected. It dashed quite a few of my cherished "beliefs" about the period running up to America's involvement in World War II, especially regarding FDR's conduct and attitude.

    New information is refreshing.
    New information presented well is outstanding!


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

    At this length, hardly! But, that's not a bad thing. This is a book to be savored, not sprinted through. It's not a page-turner in the knuckle-biting suspense or action genre--it's a historical treatise, packed with information and insight. It's a book to be studied not plowed through.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman in Black

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Paul Ansdell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (373)
    Performance
    (306)
    Story
    (305)

    Eel Marsh house stands alone, surveying the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Once, Mrs Alice Drablow lived here as a recluse. Now, Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor with a London firm, is summoned to attend her funeral, unaware of the tragic and terrible secrets which lie behind the house's shuttered windows.

    Karen says: "good story and narration"
    "Old School Gothic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Susan Hill and/or Paul Ansdell?

    While I enjoyed Paul Ansdell's reading, I kept confusing him in my mind with the actor Michael York. I will admit, this distracted me somewhat from the otherwise solid performance. As to the story, while it's a sold old-school Gothic tale, it's too slow for my tastes.

    I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I expected to. The level of psychological horror was there, but it could have been both darker and more pervasive. That, and the main character's tendency to faint at moments of extreme stress didn't help.

    Overall, I guess the fact that one critical element of the climax of the book is telegraphed throughout the whole of the book was sufficiently distracting. The climax simply isn't climactic ... not when we, the reader, know exactly what's coming and are just waiting for it.

    Still, it was worth a listen.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ringworld

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Larry Niven
    • Narrated By Tom Parker
    Overall
    (2870)
    Performance
    (1540)
    Story
    (1566)

    Welcome to Ringworld, an intermediate step between Dyson Spheres and planets. The gravitational force created by a rotation on its axis of 770 miles per second means no need for a roof. Walls 1,000 miles high at each rim will let in the sun and prevent much air from escaping. Larry Niven's novel, Ringworld, is the winner of the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1970 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1972 Ditmars, an Australian award for Best International Science Fiction.

    Kennet says: "Genuinely Creative"
    "An old classic!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Ringworld to be better than the print version?

    I have read to destruction at least three copies of Ringworld over the decades. It's one of the books on my "yearly treat" list--once a year, I re-read it for the sheer pleasure of it. Now, I have a copy I can't ruin as I read it!

    The audio version has all the perks of the print version--excellent story, fascinating characters, a narrative that set a very high bar for most science fiction that followed--plus the twin virtues of being able to listen to it whenever I want (reading a book while driving is NEVER a good idea, but listening ...) AND the copy is indestructible.

    I'll keep my printed copies safe for now and, instead, add this to my yearly listening playlist!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Ringworld?

    I continue to be impressed at the various characters Larry Niven manages to weave together, along with all the back-story of the Known Space series. The very fact of the Ringworld itself is one of the most memorable moments in the book--an artifact that can frighten even the mighty puppeteers!


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

    Oddly enough, it's his enunciation and pronunciation that I am happiest with. Reading the words puts certain tones and audible-cues into your head, including the occasional mispronunciation. Parker's various characterizations are excellent (especially for Speaker and Nessus) as is his ability to pronounce names like Harloprillalar without stumbling!


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

    I've read this book in a single afternoon many times. I actually enjoyed the slower pace brought about by listening to it. The trouble with re-reading a book you're familiar with is that you might skip past phrases, sentences, or even whole pages of "boring" material to get to the good stuff. Parker's rendition, combined with the simple length of audio vs. printed media, stretches out the book. It's not long, by modern standards, but as an audiobook it's riveting stuff!


    Any additional comments?

    The sequel is high on my list of Things To Purchase With My Next Credit. Of course, that list is LONG. :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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