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John A. M. Darnell

Pedantic Voracious

Brookfield, MO USA | Member Since 2003

88
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 37 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • Brain Wave

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Poul Anderson
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    For millions of years, the part of the galaxy containing our solar system has been moving through a vast force field that has been inhibiting certain electromagnetic and electrochemical processes and, thus, certain neurotic functions. When Earth escapes the inhibiting field, synapse speed immediately increases, causing a rise in intelligence, which results in a transfigured humanity reaching for the stars, leaving behind our earth to the less intelligent humans and animal life-forms.

    Joel says: "Interesting "what if..." and speculation about us"
    "I expected more..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Poul Anderson is one of my favorite SF writers from the Golden Age. I loved his stories of David Falkayn, Chee Lan, Ensign Flandry and a host of other larger than life heroes that inhabited the Polesotechnic League Universe and the future human empire. And even when I first read Brainwave back in the seventies, I loved it. There was something there that made it fresh, original, full of promise and certainly expansive. This reading, however, stole that away from the story. Several times I almost concluded that since I had already read the story and knew the ending, I could give it up and go to my next book, but loyalty to the author and a desire to see how the narrator completed that final scene generated in me a hard-nosed forbearance. I have not decided whether it was a wise choice.

    I can only marginally recommend this narration. It has its good points but it also moves along a bit lifelessly. If you are so much in love with Science Fiction that missing even one novel is unacceptable, then pick this one up. If Science Fiction is not your passion, then it would be best if you moved on to something a little more mainstream and comprehensible or you, too, may find yourself wondering whether you should finish this narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Grief Observed

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 50 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (111)
    Story
    (112)

    Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moments", A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period.

    Sam says: "A Grief Observed (Unabridged)"
    "Thought-provoking and relentless"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've both read and listened to this very fine if sad tome and in both media the hurt and pain that Lewis feels on the death of his beloved H comes through in spades. Lewis spares no feelings as he lashes out at this world and the Other World for taking the one woman in his life that had made a difference. In the end, he reconciles himself to fate and to Fate and Faith, but the journey is long, and the days of pain numerous. I usually warn someone not to read/listen to a book if one is depressed. In this case, I encourage it. You will find yourself identifying with Lewis' travails and, hopefully, when done you will find new joy and a renewed hope at the end of the journey. This book is a book of Faith, but in order to get there, one has to cross the chasm of Doubt. This Lewis does, but the journey is painful, and full of personal introspection. Give him the benefit of the doubt and trust him as he finally concluded that he must trust Him for all outcomes.
    The reader is British. What else is there to say. He reads well, adds the correct amount of emphasis where needed. His accent does not get in the way, and even adds a small amount of charm to the narration, but at the same time, he is British and in passages that rubbed me the wrong way. Still, his voice added to Lewis' voice produced a remarkable work worthy of consideration, especially if one is going through grief him/herself. This is a treasure. Pick it up and learn from it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Dead or Alive

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy, Grant Blackwood
    • Narrated By Lou Diamond Phillips
    Overall
    (4831)
    Performance
    (2612)
    Story
    (2629)

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

    Robert B. Wales says: "Same great Clancey - Great narration"
    "Made me uneasy..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Though I consider myself a fan of Tom Clancy's writings, I found this book to be so similar to previous writings that I had to force myself to finish it. There's the additional consideration that even though I know its just a story, I, the reader have to wrestle with (along with the characters, I admit) the ethics of vigilante justice. The world is a dangerous place and though I recognize this truth, I don't like to hear about people who unilaterally decide that this guy is a bad guy and should be removed from the scene. To be sure, in the end all the bad guys in this book really are bad guys, but still this moral ambiguity exists, and that steals some of the Hollywood magic from the story.

    Though Lou Diamond Phillips' performance was good, it was not stellar. He does not come close to the performance heights of a Stefan Rudnicki, or a Scott Brick or a Michael Kramer.

    If you want a thriller, try one of the Clive Cussler novels. They might be quirky and full of "goodness, can they do that?" but I have yet to read or listen to a story from his pen that makes me wonder whether I am rooting for the good guys. This Clancy novel had me...concerned.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dark and Stormy Knights

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Shannon K Butcher, and others
    • Narrated By Renee Raudman, Joe Barrett, Marc Vietor, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (482)
    Performance
    (340)
    Story
    (341)

    It was a dark and stormy knight, and nine dark defenders embarked upon a most perilous quest. They're the ultimate defenders of humanity, modern day knights who do dark deeds for all the right reasons. In this all-star collection, nine of today's hottest paranormal authors bring us thrilling, all-new stories of supernatural knights that are brimming with magic mystery and mayhem.

    L. L. Kiminki says: "Get this just for P.N. Elrod, not for Jim Butcher"
    "Disappointing and unpleasant"
    Overall

    I got this book on the basis of the presence of the Jim Butcher story. It was okay, but nowhere near as good as his novels or some of his other scribblings. All the other stories were pretty unremarkable to downright unpleasant. Be advised that some of these stories do not let up on the deep profanity, which is what finally persuaded me to stop listening when I had only fifty-two minutes of the book left. (I am, unashamedly, a prude. Leave the gutter in the gutter. I don't want it infecting my literature.) There were very few "knights" in these stories, not even the metaphorical kind. The only reason this got two stars was because of the Butcher story. Pass on this one unless there is absolutely nothing else to listen to. Even then, consider mowing the lawn, any lawn first. It will be more enjoyable.

    8 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

    • ABRIDGED (1 hr and 26 mins)
    • By Barbara Robinson
    • Narrated By Elaine Stritch
    Overall
    (127)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (58)

    The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.

    Patty says: "WHAT A WASTE"
    "Great Story, horrible recording"
    Overall

    This story, timeless in subject and quite memorable all by itself (which is why I gave it at least two stars) is fatally marred by a terrible recording. The words are barely distinguishable in places and the distortion distracts so badly that a couple of times I almost shut it off in favor of other, better Audible recordings. Audible should remove this version from its inventory and find a better, higher-quality recording. Either that or refund the money of those who purchased this lousy rendition of a wonderful short story. Go look for a better recording; do not purchase this one. You will regret doing so if you do.

    FYI, I listened to this on a Sony Home Theater piece of equipment, used with Blu-Ray disks, and an iPod for a recording medium.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Shack

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Wm. Paul Young
    • Narrated By Roger Mueller
    Overall
    (3988)
    Performance
    (1627)
    Story
    (1673)

    Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare.

    Renato says: "much more than I expected"
    "A C.S. Lewis Wannabe"
    Overall

    After having built up a bit of expectancy for this title (all my friends told me how really good it was) I found myself vaguely disappointed by this book. It is truly heavy on theology sandwiched in between a decent plot at the front and a rather bland end. Though I am a great lover of Lewis' work, I found myself vaguely disappointed in this author's efforts. The story's timing was poor, the emotions of the major players were hard to believe in and sometimes didn't make any sense, and in general the story only went so far in satisfying. I will admit that part of it may have been the narrator who did a poor to so--so job of reading this book. If you want a "C.S. Lewis-like" story, Audible has plenty of the real McCoy. Choose this only if you have exhausted all other options for an uplifting Christian story and you have no desire to listen to anything else.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Sam Gunn Unlimited

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Ben Bova
    • Narrated By William Windom, Janet Fontaine, more
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Sam Gunn has a reputation as the 21st century's greatest entrepreneur and most hated public figure. Visionary scoundrel, lover, liar, he is small in stature but larger than life. And as this compilation of Sam Gunn tales proves, it's not easy being the solar system's most infamous space cowboy.

    John A. M. Darnell says: "Disappointing..."
    "Disappointing..."
    Overall

    This collection of short stories is close to Bova vintage in their style, tenor and content. They represent Mr. Bova's strong support of free enterprise (which I agree with) but it also includes a few gritty, sexed-up stories, which left me cold. I do not mean to suggest that there's pornography here (there isn't) but Bova has always loved to include hefty chunks of his characters' private and bedroom life, which more often than not, I could care less about. Additionally, and the reason why I gave it only two stars, is that the second-to-last story in this anthology is nearly inaudible; indeed, I almost stopped listening to this book because of it. The rest of the recordings are a little better, but none of them strike me as high-quality in sound reproduction. The narrators themselves, however, do well when you can understand them. The stories are read with passion and understanding. On the whole, I recommend passing this one up, but only until the garbled nature of the recording is cleaned up. Bova's stories are always ultimately rewarding, even if they are not the high quality found in Bujold or Weber.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Daniel J. Levitin
    • Narrated By Edward Herrman
    Overall
    (400)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (108)

    In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music - its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it - and the human brain. Levitin draws on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen.

    Paul Mullen says: "Neuroscience for the right brain"
    "Great mechanistic approach..."
    Overall

    This book really is enjoyable and is accessible to anyone who understands the rudiments of science, but the listener will not hear any such words like "soul" or "spirit" in this work. Dr. Levitin spends all his efforts on describing how the box works, and very little on why or what it means. This is fine for most consumers, but I would have enjoyed a foray into that other dimension where most scientists fear to tread. Nevertheless, when all is said and done, I highly recommend it.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The War with the Mein: Book One of the Acacia Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By David Anthony Durham
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (839)
    Performance
    (397)
    Story
    (405)

    A deadly assassin sent from a race called the Mein, exiled long ago to an ice-locked stronghold in the frozen north, strikes at Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, while the Mein also unleash surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to his separate destiny. And so his children begin a quest to avenge their father's death and restore the Acacian empire, this time on the basis of universal freedom.

    Glen says: "Thumbs up!"
    "Worth the listen, but beware..."
    Overall

    I started listening to Acacia on a long trip. I was first intrigued, then horrified, then disgusted with the plot. I found great merit in the literary quality of the book, but I found no characters that I liked except the children, and even they disappointed after a while. The narrator brings a special quality to the performance that I found charming. I just wish that the story had been more gentle on the listener, because ultimately, that is what my complaint is about; the author was brutal with all characters. No one finishes this story unscathed. In some writers I find that attractive;' I am a great fan of the SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series by George R. R. Martin, and can handle quite well the gritty reality that he produces. But in this world, the literary magic that made me care about Sansa, Arlia, Bran, Rickeon, and John Snow is simply not present. Indeed, there was barely enough to keep me going on to the next part (the book is downloadable in four long parts). In the end I decided that this novel was just barely worth listening to, but do not listen to it if you are depressed, or looking for inspiration. This story will not uplift you, and you will not find it. Finally, though there are four children, two boys and two girls, in the story, just like the Narnia series, I would like to point out that Narnia was written specifically for small children, but if any parent were to read this to his or her eight-year old, I would report him or her to the nearest Child Protection Service. As I have said before, this is not an easy book to read, nor is it kind to its readers, and I suspect that it would produce nightmares in small children. I have not yet decided whether I will listen to the sequels.

    31 of 38 people found this review helpful
  • The Curse of Chalion

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2078)
    Performance
    (890)
    Story
    (898)

    Amidst the decaying splendor and poisonous intrigue of Chalion's ancient capital, Cazaril is forced to confront not only powerful enemies but also the malignant curse that clings to the royal household, trapping him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the five-fold pathway of the gods.

    Pete says: "Excellent Fantasy... Epic in feel, finite in pace"
    "A pearl without price..."
    Overall

    The story and the reading are both absolutely riveting. The reader adds character to the people in this book, so much so as a matter of fact that one cannot help but wonder if he worked closely with the author. Bujold, of course, is at the top of her field, and this story is no different. When I read SPIRIT RING years ago, I was tremendously disappointed because it was so uninteresting. Because of that I waited an extra year before paying attention to this tome. I should not have. This story is rich beyond imagining in tragedy and triumph, and the reader just makes it better. I have already decided to snarf up PALADIN OF SOULS when my next allotment of books becomes available.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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