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Gregg

Indianapolis, IN, United States | Member Since 2006

23
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 10 ratings
  • 390 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2014
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  • The Twelve: A Novel: The Passage Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Justin Cronin
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (2911)
    Performance
    (2573)
    Story
    (2575)

    In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as "Last Stand in Denver", has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin.

    Amanda says: "Expanding The Story In Every Direction"
    "Excellent second installment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I just finished The Twelve. While I plan to listen to it again to catch what I missed, here are my initial impressions (and no spoilers here that aren’t mentioned in literary reviews). First, the narration by Scott Brick is excellent as always. The beginning part of the story switches back and forth between 97 A.V (five years after the conclusion of The Passage) and the Year 0. In the Year 0 portion, Cronin expands on the events surrounding the viral plague through the eyes of those living through it. A few of the characters make a brief appearance or are mentioned in the first book. Of note are Kittridge (known only as Last Stand in Denver in the first book) and Lila (the ex-wife of agent Wolgast). It is interesting to see the apocalypse through the new eyes of people just trying to stay alive as the world is dying around them, and also how these characters impact future events.

    The story of our main band from The Passage continues five years after the death of Babcock with the survivors trying to cope and adjust to life in Kerrville. Each is struggling in one way or another. Peter has joined the Expeditionary, but feels he isn’t fulfilling his mission. Alicia is as tough as ever, but the strain of being half human, half viral is a constant weight. Amy is growing as a woman and leader, but is haunted by the twelve and her memories of Walgast. Greer is serving time in the stockade for deserting his post to follow Amy and Peter, and he has become a man of deep faith.

    The primary enemy in this novel is another human settlement located in Iowa. Some of the people we meet here are old characters and some are new. I do agree with some of the early reviews that draw a comparison between this settlement and the Vegas colony in The Stand. The leader of the community even bears some similarities to Randall Flagg. It is the confrontation and the threat of this new foe that is the source of the conflict.

    I found this a great read, and an excellent follow up to The Passage. We learn the answers to many of the questions left hanging at the end of the first book, including the fate of the garrison at Roswell and what became of the citizens of First Colony. This book takes a much deeper turn into the mystical than the first book. Some of the passages that delved into the world of dreams and other dimensions were confusing at times. I also was never fully engaged by the characters in the colony in Iowa, which reminded me of a Nazi concentration camp, or its leader. Guilder, the leader, is an evil character, but I never found him as compelling as, say, Randall Flagg, to which he seems an homage.

    I rate this highly as a second installment, but was not as blown away with The Twelve as I was with The Passage. It was entertaining and was good to revisit characters fans of The Passage have come to care about. It was also good to see the story move forward to what any fan knows will be the ultimate conflict of good vs evil against Subject Zero. Some people did not find the cliffhanger ending of the first book. I loved it, and found it to be great storytelling. There is no abrupt ending as before, but that’s not to say there aren’t unanswered questions. The ending does set up the finale and opens a couple of burning questions that will ensure fans run to buy the next installment. I will.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2325)
    Performance
    (1016)
    Story
    (1007)

    Over the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has become the most gifted and influential journalist in America. In The New Yorker, his writings are such must-reads that the magazine charges advertisers significantly more money for ads that run within his articles. With his #1 best sellers, The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers, he has reached millions of readers. And now the very best and most famous of his New Yorker pieces are collected in a brilliant and provocative anthology.

    Rudi says: "Not Gladwell's best - and a recording problem"
    "Amazing collection"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I admit that was unfamiliar with Malcolm Gladwell before hearing about this book. Since downloading it, I've listened to it 3-4 times. One reason is that each chapter is a story in itself. I can clean the kitchen or take my dog for a walk and complete a story without stopping the narrative (plus I catch something new each time I listen). But the genius of Gladwell is his way of making the ordinary or mundane completely fascinating. I never would have imagined I would be amazed by the story of ketchup, but I was. He is brilliant at taking seemingly straight forward issues like the Challenger disaster or Enron or pit bulls and making one think differently. That is where it is genius. It makes one think. I certainly never would have thought the story of Ron Popeil or the history of women's hair dye would be interesting. Instead, I found these stories utterly fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • New York: The Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Edward Rutherfurd
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    Overall
    (868)
    Performance
    (469)
    Story
    (471)

    New York is the book that millions of Rutherfurd's American fans have been waiting for. A brilliant mix of romance, war, family drama, and personal triumphs, it gloriously captures the search for freedom and prosperity at the heart of our nation's history.

    Chuck says: "Stunning"
    "Good, fun tour, but not Rutherfurd's best."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read every Edward Rutherfurd book, starting with "Sarum" (still my favorite) twenty years ago. I always enjoy the journey through time and the interconnectivity of lives and families. I love historical fiction and seeing great figures and events from a character's firsthand perspective. The narrator is fantastic, seamlessly switching from character to character and giving distinct voices and convincing accents to the characters. [Akin to Michael Lee, in my opinion.] I did have three minor disappointments with the story, though, compared to his other books.

    First, in earlier works, such as "Sarum" or "Russka", we follow the interactions of families over thousands of years. The timeframe in "New York" -- about four centuries -- is the shortest of all his works. Yet the vast majority of the story focuses on one privileged English family. The other families (Indian, Dutch, German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, etc.) give color and heart to the story, bringing the rich history and diversity of the city alive. But they often seem secondary to the narrative, and once introduced they disappear at times for long periods with no explanation of what has happened in between. That works better in a story that spans a few thousand years, but in a story that spans a mere 400 we know the character we cared about in the previous chapter is still alive and they are often never heard from again.

    Second, I wish the story had started earlier. Though homage is paid to the Native American inhabitants in Rutherfurd's well-researched style, I would have enjoyed a chapter or two discribing life on Manhattan prior to European arrival. Instead, we begin with the Dutch settlers with depictions of the remaining and displaced natives. I would have liked to have learned more about life before the Europeans came.

    Third, everyone seems basically good. There are few "bad" people, but not many. There is no family that spawns generations of thieves and rogues. There are no multi-generational grudges. The criminals are still good at heart. The rich are generally generous and open-minded. Even those we at first dislike often find a redemption and change of heart. And that isn't the way life always works.

    These three points are criticisms, but not condemnations. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it. As always, the author weaves a tapestry of the history of a locale with his characters bearing witness as it evolves. And if you haven't read (listened to) Rutherford's earlier works, do so. His journeys are enlightening in their passage through time.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Land of Painted Caves: Earth's Children, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Jean M. Auel
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1256)
    Performance
    (763)
    Story
    (775)

    Ayla, one of the most remarkable and beloved heroines in contemporary fiction, continues to explore the world and the people around her with curiosity, insight, and, above all, courage. As the story opens, Ayla, Jondalar, and their infant daughter, Jonayla, are living with the Zelandonii in the Ninth Cave - a shelter of stone. Ayla has been chosen as an acolyte and has embarked on the arduous task of training to become a spiritual leader.

    phillip says: "Be careful what you wish for!"
    "Very Disappointing"
    Overall

    Like many who have enjoyed the other books in this series, I was excited for this final installment. Sadly, it was a major let down. There were a few times I considered giving up because all it seemed like it was all a series of people meeting Ayla, being surprised by Ayla's strange accent, being shocked that Ayla could control a wolf and horses, looking at old cave paintings and reciting the "Mother Song" over and over and over and over again. I stuck with it, but it wasn't until 25+ hours into this book that anything occurred that advanced any narrative at all. But even then, there was never any real drama. The "big" revelation, when it comes, left me thinking, "really? that what all this build up was about? really?" It was just a very disappointing final chapter for a great character and a great series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Quest

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Wilbur Smith
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (225)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (77)

    Egypt is struck by a series of terrible plagues that cripple the Kingdom, and then the ultimate disaster follows: the Nile fails. The waters that nourish and sustain the land dry up. Something catastrophic is taking place in the distant and totally unexplored depths of Africa from where the mighty river springs. In desperation, Pharaoh sends for Taita, the only man who might be able to find the source of the Nile and discover the cause of all their woes.

    John Fedderke says: "Dissapointed beyond belief"
    "Disappointed!"
    Overall

    I've never written a negative review before, but I had to throw my two cents in on this one. I have enjoyed many Wilbur Smith books over the years and have been entertained by this story telling set in a historical context. After so many other entertaining books set on the African continent I was eager to read (listen to) his take on ancient Egypt. Sadly, I was disappointed. There was little of the real Egypt (which I have visited a number of times), and instead concentrated on a bunch of mystic mumbo jumbo that detracts from any real characters or story lines. I would not recommend this to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fall of Giants: The Century Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (8190)
    Performance
    (4893)
    Story
    (4882)

    Ken Follett's World Without End was a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh - as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

    Keith says: "Ken Follett and John Lee / Audible's Dream Team"
    "A good start to a promising trigoly"
    Overall

    A great read and great reader (John Lee)!!

    This book is almost, in a way, like a Shakepearan or Aristolian tragedy (though not to that level of "literature"). Everyone thinks they are doing the right thing, but it just leads to more conflict and escalates. What it does do is show so effectively the attitudes and opinions that were stuck in the 19th century and led to a great tragedy in the 20th. And, presumably, set the stage for even greater hardship in the next installment in the trilogy. WWI is a forgotten war in many ways. That era is often overlooked, but the events that took place in the 1910s shaped the world we all inherited in the latter 20th century. I learned a lot, and it prompted me to investigate aspects of WWI I never knew about before. The array of opinions and characters may be preditctable, but they do reflect their age.

    I read a few reviews that objected only to "sexual" references. Those negative few are laughable. People had sex (and always have) and not always in the Puritanical sense that some would prefer. That is the way people are and have always been. If you want Disney, this isn't your book. It reflects a realistic picture of life a century ago, and how we are still the same and we continue to make the same mistakes.

    Great first installment, Ken. I look forward to the next issue.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Pillars of the Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12886)
    Performance
    (5244)
    Story
    (5286)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Got 40 hours to kill? You’ll find the time when you start listening to Lee’s take on Follett’s epic – and widely celebrated – novel of 12th-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...and of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame....

    CynNC says: "Captivating"
    "Don't be dissuaded by negative reviewers"
    Overall

    I first read this book in hard-cover nearly 20 years ago, and was compelled due the recent mini-series based on it to get the audio version. I loved it then and still love it. It is one of my favorite books. Yes, it is long. Yes, there are some archetypal figures -- the underdog who makes good, the evil bishop, the salt-of-the-earth mason, the "princess" brought low who fights back. Some claim it isn't true "historical fiction". Well, not if you compare to something like the "The Killer Angels". Instead it is a more a good story set in the backdrop of historical events and at a certain period of history. You learn a bit about the history of the The Anarchy, but that is merely the setting. Some claim it is too romantic, and I have never found that to be the case. There is romance to be sure, but I am hardly a fan that genre and have never viewed it as the pervading theme. There are even those that claim the book lacks morality, either due to the violent depicted or the author's proclaimed lack of faith. I disagree. It was a violent age and depictions of it only underscore what was common then. As for the author’s faith, it doesn’t matter. Follett has given us a many moral and admirable figures (even as a non-Catholic, I wish I knew a clergyman as wise and devout as Prior Philip).

    This is a story that anyone could relate to. True the characters are very clearly drawn for the most part. But is their struggles through life in what to us is a primitive period is what is compelling. It is historical fiction, but it also draws on our 20th-21st century sensibilities. There are brutal depictions of torture, violence and rape, but not for gratuitousness. It serves to show the fragility of life and hardships that those in that age had to endure. I can only imagine the hardships my own ancestors had to endure 900 years ago in order for me to be here today.

    At its core, Pillars is about people and survival. The good. And the bad. They exist in any age. S

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Shibumi

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Trevanian
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (723)
    Performance
    (278)
    Story
    (287)

    Nicholai Hel, born in the ravages of World War I China to an aristocratic Russian mother and a mysterious German father, raised in the spiritual gardens of a Japanese Go Master, survives the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world's most artful lover and its most accomplished and highly paid assassin. Genius, mystic, master of language and culture, Hel's secret is his determination to attain a rare kind of personal excellence, a state of effortless perfection: shibumi.

    David says: "Only a Russian could be this shibumi"
    "Too much about the author's ego"
    Overall

    The author was obviously an intelligent man, and the book was well researched (though his knowledge of computer technology in the 70s is futuristic, which distracts from the story).

    I did appreciate the insights into Japanese and Basque cultures.

    But more often than not, I felt the author (why the one name, if not for ego?) was just using his characters to espouse his own opinions and political views. Moreover, the author seems more interested in showing how smart he is than in telling a good story.

    In a work a of fiction, if you are thinking about the author while reading (or listening) about the characters, then that isn't a good sign. Check it out if you like. This book is not without merit on some levels, but it is hardly the "classic" that others seem to think it is.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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