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Ryan

University administrator. Commuter cyclist. Dad, husband. Loves books of course. Aspiring Jedi Knight and Warder.

Nepean, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2013

23
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 20 reviews
  • 82 ratings
  • 239 titles in library
  • 61 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Rorke Denver
    • Narrated By Rorke Denver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (463)
    Performance
    (419)
    Story
    (427)

    Rorke Denver trains the men who become Navy SEALs - the most creative problem solvers on the modern battlefield, ideal warriors for the kinds of wars America is fighting now. With his years of action-packed mission experience and a top training role, Lieutenant Commander Denver understands exactly how tomorrow’s soldiers are recruited, sculpted, motivated, and deployed. Now, Denver takes you inside his personal story and the fascinating, demanding SEAL training program he now oversees.

    AXiD says: "Wonderful autobio,but sort of deadpan delivery"
    "War Porn."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First off I want to acknowledge a few very important things. What the author achieves over the course of his military career is nothing short of amazing. His dedication, perseverance and military skills are something to behold. I respect that. I also respect that he wrote down his experience. Writing is not easy and he did it pretty well. Another testament to this gentleman.

    These things being said, I disliked this book. While on the one hand it will serve anyone who is looking to become a special forces soldier very well as they attempt to prep joining a particular service, I was saddened by the author's treatment of war. He glosses over the horrors that US soldiers and Iraqi civilians have had to endure. There are several exceptional books out there that speak to the futility of these wars and the impact it has had on individual soldiers and their families. Were you only to read this book you would be forced to conclude that war is relatively cost-free vis a vis humanity and resources. If I were a young man looking to join the military and I read this book, I would join convinced war is a less than costly endeavour where at the end of it I will be an unaffected and greatly improved human being. I don't believe this is the reality.

    Perhaps my view of this book was tainted by the fact I listened to All Quiet on the Western Front just before reading Damn Few. The contrast between the two couldn't be any more different. Interestingly and to his credit, in the final chapter of the book the author provides some required reading for anyone who wants to better understand war. One of the books he provides is Matterhorn. I'm glad he does this as this book is an incredible testament to how terrible war can be.

    Bottom line: this is a great book if you want to know what it takes to be a Navy Seal. He almost makes war sound fun - hence my War Porn title. However, it lacks depth and fails to acknowledge the broader impact of the Iraq and Afghan wars on both soldiers and civilians.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • War and Remembrance

    • UNABRIDGED (56 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    Overall
    (1988)
    Performance
    (1689)
    Story
    (1676)

    Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues here in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

    aaron says: "What can I say that hasn't already been said??"
    "Tremendous in every way!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of War and Remembrance to be better than the print version?

    Didn't read the book, but what I can say is that the narrator was superb. As many others have indicated, his accents, the way he did female voices and overall pacing is the simply best I've heard.


    What other book might you compare War and Remembrance to and why?

    That's tough. I've only read a few stories that are as epic as this one. While it's a different genre, I guess Lord of Rings might qualify due to is expansiveness, its rich character development, the writing (his use of English language is first class) and for its sheer ambition. Whether you're a history buff or have any interest in WW II this book really must be listened to. It is compelling in every way and I came out having learned more about this period of history than all my readings and learning combined. In everyway it's something special.


    Which character – as performed by Kevin Pariseau – was your favorite?

    He was a perfect match for the book. He nailed all the accents. He did a great job across the board and unlike many narrators, he can portray female voices very well. But if I had to pick, he really hit a home run with the German SS officers, particularly when they were enraged. Gripping really.


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

    I don't think you can listen to this book and not have a strong reaction to the Jews and how they were treated. Wouk does an incredible job of describing all of the sad and very maddening details. Like the allied populations, even now it seems unbelievable that a modern country could collectively enact this despicable program. It explains and informs many of today's world events. Very sad and terribly frustrating stuff.


    Any additional comments?

    I stumbled across this book. I'd never heard of it and hadn't heard of the author. Perhaps it's because I'm Gen X'er. I'm not an expert, but I feel this book deserves to discussed and talked about by my generation, those younger than me. It's a compelling and approachable story that touches on some truisms and realties that should never be forgotten. I guess its length would be part of the problem, but that aside, it really something more of us should be reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Karen Miller
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    Overall
    (170)
    Performance
    (108)
    Story
    (108)

    The Separatist Alliance, with ruthlessness and treachery, is beating the Republic to every strategic target. But after a costly clash with General Grievous for the planet Kothlis, Anakin has a mission that will focus his anxious mind. Alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi, he is posing as a long-lost native of Lanteeb, an impoverished world on the Outer Rim. This seemingly unimportant planet has drawn the interest of the Seps and Anakin, and Obi-Wan soon discover the disturbing reason.

    Robyn says: "good storyline poor character portrayal"
    "Some merit but lacks panache"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So I'm a certifiable Star Wars junkie. Not the worlds biggest fan but I've probably read about 40 or expanded SW novels over the years. Some are great, many are ok, some are downright atrocious. This is in the ok category.

    What I liked:
    - Really liked the dynamic between Obi Wan and Anakin. Miller actually does the best job I've read of the many authors who've tried to tackle this tandem. She gives the relationship depth that most other books lack.
    - I really like how she portrayed the emotional disaster that is Anakin. This is a big criticism of the Clone Wars. While the TV show provides glimpses of Skywalker's psychology that leads him to the Dark Side, Miller does an excellent job of portraying this character's many emotional foibles that eventually lead to his fall. I see some people writing this is over done but I appreciated the opportunity of exploring his instability.
    - This is one of the more gritty SW novels I've read. Kinda reflects the SW universe where Han shot first (if you're a fan you'll know what I mean)

    What I didn't like:
    - While the advantages of writing a story about Obi Wan and Anakin are obvious, it's also really tricky because there are so many other stories and SW cannon around these characters. Yoda and Bail Organa too. The author takes liberties and this results in much gnashing of teeth. You could have wrote this story with a couple of secondary characters and still had a fine story but not creating inconsistencies with the ample material that covers these two main characters.
    - The overall story plodded along and was predicable. It definitely didn't hook me in.
    - Why are all bad guys so stupid in SW (Thrawn excepted). Despite having an ultra secure facility, the Jedi basically have full run of the place. They crawl through several hundred meters of air vents - really! Air vents is gotta be the oldest trick in the book! But I guess if you think about it, this is exactly what Han and Luke did in the first movie on the Death Star, but I digress. Sigh... SW isn't perfect.
    - The author relies way too much upon Anakin's technical skills; we know that he's handy with fixing things, but some of the situations he resolves with this skill verge on silly.

    So in a nutshell, it was ok read. Certainly not the greatest SW novel I've read, but an better than average attempt that gets the Obi Wan-Anakin relationship done right.

    BTW: the narrator was great. I think it's the gentleman from the Clone Wars. A nice touch!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Things They Carried

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tim O'Brien
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1336)
    Performance
    (1239)
    Story
    (1231)

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

    Darwin8u says: "Grief, terror, love, longing"
    "Not sure what to make of it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not sure what I was expecting with this novel. It's been labelled a modern classic by many and to be sure it is a very good novel of a war veteran who tells a careful story of his experience in Vietnam and those of his friends. I guess I've read and heard so much about various experiences about this war - both before, during and after - that I felt this didn't offer me any deeper insight into what it was like to fight in this futile conflict.

    I suspect when he wrote this in 1990 perhaps there weren't as many well articulated reflections on this experience and this stood above the rest in terms of its honesty and literary rawness. Or perhaps I'm just blind to the impact of Mr. O'Brien's novel. Or, it could be a generational thing or that I'm not American. Again, I'm not sure.

    So in the end, it didn't resonate with me as much as I thought it would.

    All that being said, the novel does have many powerful and almost unbelievable moments and Bryan Cranston does a superb job of narrating. He was in complete command of this story. He gave it more depth and heft in my opinion and definitely made a worthwhile listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Hunter S. Thompson
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1010)
    Performance
    (535)
    Story
    (541)

    In Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, Raoul Duke (Thompson) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (inspired by a friend of Thompson) are quickly diverted to search for the American dream. Their quest is fueled by nearly every drug imaginable and quickly becomes a surreal experience that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. But there is more to this hilarious tale than reckless behavior, for underneath the hallucinogenic facade is a stinging criticism of American greed and consumerism.

    Ryan T. Nichols says: "Ron McLarty?"
    "Was this for real...?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had not seen the movie and only knew a bit about Hunter S. Thompson, so my expectations re: the story and narrator were not set. And every so often, I'll pick up a classic story if only to try and give myself a modicum of coolness in the circles a run in ;-).

    First the story. I had to look up Gozo Journalism half-way through the listen and am glad I did because it helped give important context to the book. While it's a story, it's also an article on the Mint 400 and a Law Enforcement conference in Vegas - seen through the eyes of a degenerate drug fiend and his equally deprived friend. In a way it's genius. It's reporting that tells of events while at the same time intertwining an interesting historical sub-culture of the US and this combination greatly enhances the story that the reporter is trying to put across. And what a sub-culture it is! I thought I was wild as a teenager and young man, but my achievements are but an anthill to Thompson's Everest. The drugs and shenanigans these two guys get into... And the drugs. Wow there's a lot of them.

    For me however, it all became a bit too much. At some point it dawned on me that today there are Hunter S. Thompson's out there right now, acting like jackasses, ruining their lives and the lives of others without a care, only for their own personal gratification. We all run into them from time to time and it's not fun. I'm for having a great time, but I guess I felt it was all a bit too much and it turned me off. Perhaps that makes me old or maybe normal. I'm not sure which.

    In any event, as a piece of journalism, I guess this was and is a pretty cool piece of work, but as book to enjoy, I struggled with it. To be clear there are some really funny parts, but the parts in between made me squeamish and eventually annoyed, so at the end of the day I gave a middle of the road review.

    I did really like the narrator. I thought he nailed the two main characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Victory of Eagles: Temeraire, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Naomi Novik
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (616)
    Performance
    (364)
    Story
    (360)

    It is a grim time for the dragon Temeraire. On the heels of his mission to Africa, seeking the cure for a deadly contagion, he has been removed from military service - and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason. For Britain, conditions are grimmer still: Napoleon's resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil.

    Karin W. says: "Excellent story, but the audio files are truncated"
    "Favourite In Series So Far"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Am really enjoying this series. Novik is an exceptional writer and develops many wonderful characters. Regarding this particular installment, there was lots of aerial action, new interesting characters were added in, there was a compelling storyline and I really like how she treated Captain Lawrence in the story. It deepened this character another degree, which serves to strengthen the overall series.

    Everything about this series is very cool - the historical aspect, the intelligent dragons, the human characters, the storyline, the writing and the narration. It's top notch in everyway and this particular story was my fav thus far. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • After America: Get Ready for Armageddon

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Mark Steyn
    • Narrated By Mark Steyn
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (344)
    Performance
    (307)
    Story
    (310)

    In his giant New York Times best seller, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, Mark Steyn predicted collapse for the rest of the Western World. Now, he adds, America has caught up with Europe on the great rush to self-destruction. What will a world without American leadership look like? It won’t be pretty—not for you and not for your children. America’s decline won’t be gradual, like an aging Europe sipping espresso at a café until extinction. No, America’s decline will be a wrenching affair marked by violence and possibly secession.

    Peter says: "Facts"
    "Really, Really Enjoyed!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So I'll qualify that I'm Canadian and in that regard, I've had the pleasure of reading Mr. Steyn a bit longer than most. What a treat he is - both his writing and his narration.

    While I think he goes a bit far at times with his analysis (in particular his concerns re: Muslims), on many other matters he's bang on in my estimation and to that end the US, Europe and others are on a precipice. I won't get into his analysis other than to say he covers the main topics you would expect from someone who is commenting on the political situation in the US (though he mostly stays away from the abortion and gun issue). The US and Int economy, immigration, geopolitical politics, demographics are all covered and even if half of what he suggests is going to happen, happens, it's going to be a really tough go. People shouldn't say they weren't warned.

    Outside of his interesting and provocative analyses, what makes Steyn so special is his sense of humour. He really is stand alone in this regard. Sharp analysis with an even sharper wit is a deadly combination. The pen is certainly mightier in this book.

    The cherry on the cake is that Steyn himself narrates. Intentionally (I think) he uses what I guess is a cross between a British and Aussie accent and this makes the read downright hilarious at times. The narration is excellent I suspect because Steyn knows exactly how he wants his text delivered and he rolls through the book flawlessly. He so good at it, I wouldn't be surprised to see him narrate books that are not his.

    In summary - a highly recommended, well narrated cutting political commentary regarding the end of the United States as a major power.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Guns

    • UNABRIDGED (49 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (940)
    Performance
    (852)
    Story
    (836)

    In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King's keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.

    Daniel E. Jacobs says: "putting his voice on what people have been saying"
    "Reasonable proposition. Will never happen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not American so I watch and listen to the gun debate with shifting emotions of anger, futility, hilarity, and lots of sadness. Like health care, like the deficit, the gun debate is a reflection of the fact the US is broken. Rome is on a slow burn when a man walks into a school and kills 20+ kids and teachers and no one so much as shrugs.

    To his credit, King uses his literary skills and fame to put forward a most reasonable compromise on the gun question. It's not overly unique, but it does warrant attention for its moderation vs the usual celebrity extremism that gets picked up in the media. And having never read (or listened) to a King novel, I can say that I was impressed by the "everyman" style he used for his writing. He drops the occasional F-bomb and there is some humour but as you would expect from the king of horror and suspense, he tries to get your attention with some pretty graphic descriptions. Mission accomplished, he gets your attention.

    For any American reading this book and this review and who has any kind of opinion on the gun question, I say this little essay is worth your money. King's middle of the road approach has appeal and has utility in a politic that by all accounts is presently not well. Those of us in Canada and the rest of the world (sans the psychos, Marxists, jihadists, and eco-crazies) are pulling for you. This book offers a moderate approach to guns just as there are reasonable approaches on whole host of other issues. I sincerely hope you folks begin to get it figured out.

    The narrator, Rommell was his normal excellent self. The guy does outrage better than anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques and Technologies for Uncertain Things

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By James Wesley Rawles
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (593)
    Performance
    (386)
    Story
    (370)

    James Wesley Rawles, founder of survivalblog.com, shares with you everything you need to know to be ready for the worst. The book includes information on proper food storage and sanitation, gardening and livestock basics, investment strategies to protect your assets, medical advice, communication techniques, home security, and how to get "outta Dodge" when, in the parlance of the movement, "the shit hits the fan".

    skyrat says: "Unsurprising"
    "For Millionaires only. Impractical for most."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So there is no doubt that the gentleman who wrote this book is knowledgeable. He definitely knows his stuff. However, his proposal, even if you were to implement only 20% is not affordable, nor practical for about 97% of the population in North America. I guess that's the point though. In the world this guy creates in this book and his fictional novels, that's who survives at the end of the day - a small fraction of the continent.

    For the rest of us, there are nuggets in this book that may be useful to you. I bought it on sale so it was worth a listen. As long as you keep in mind that the vast majority of the book is prepping overkill and that the likelihood of the end of the world is minuscule, it's not a complete waste of time.

    If however, you are into living 100km away from the closest urban centre, like the idea of living in a bunker with few windows, hoarding years of food, owning about 15 different guns and thousands of rounds and just being an all round weirdo/recluse and you've got about $500,000 in the bank just waiting for you to burn through it on the off chance the end of the world happens - hey, this book is for you.

    For the rest of us, practice good common sense and you'll probably "survive" almost anything the world throws at you. Heck, my great grandparents and grandparents survived the great depression and the scourge of fascism and imperialism and they came out of it just fine. Just saying.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Remaining: Fractured

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By D. J. Molles
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1219)
    Performance
    (1143)
    Story
    (1138)

    The Camp Ryder Hub is broken. Lee is nowhere to be found, and his allies are scattered across the state, each of them learning that their missions will not be as easy as they thought. Inside the walls of Camp Ryder, a silent war is brewing, between those few that still support Lee's vision of rebuilding, and the majority that support Jerry's desire for isolation. But this war will not remain silent for long.

    Mike Naka says: "incredible continuation of a great series"
    "Main Character is a Dummy. Ruins Book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'll be brief. This is your standard Zombie Apocalypse. If your into the genre, it's all predictable and to the author's credit he does make some efforts to make his nightmare different from the rest. I enjoyed his writing style and he had a pretty good grasp on the technical stuff that goes with being a survivalist.

    But and there's a pretty big but.... the main protagonist is insufferable. He's a special forces guy who's been trained for the end of the world. Within the first 100 pages, he establishes himself as perhaps the stupidest public servant. Ever. Decision after decision is a head slapper and this in effect ruins the book. Because this is a series, I couldn't see myself bearing the main character's jackassery for more than one volume. The dude gives the Army Rangers a bad name.

    In any event, if you can look past Ranger Rick and his stupidity, then the story is a decent one. Perhaps in future volumes he'll get wise. I won't get to find out.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Into the Black: Odyssey One

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Evan Currie
    • Narrated By Benjamin L. Darcie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1643)
    Performance
    (1517)
    Story
    (1522)

    Captain Eric Weston and his crew encounter horrors, wonders, monsters, and people; all of which will test their resolve, challenge their abilities, and put in sharp relief what is necessary to be a hero. A first-rate military-science-fiction epic that combines old-school space opera and modern storytelling, Into the Black: Odyssey One is a riveting, exhilarating adventure with vivid details, rich mythology, and relentless pacing.

    C. Hartmann says: "Great, Solid Military SciFi / Evolving Space Opera"
    "An ok first try"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't write a lot of reviews but I felt compelled on this one because I love space operas and this book has received so many good reviews. I understand this is Currie's first book. If this is the case he deserves credit. It's not a bad yarn and the world he's set up has potential, but this first novel was held back for many reasons:

    - The total lack of charisma of his main character, his first officer and several other secondary characters. The author made the relationships across the entire book stilted, wooden and quite frankly unbelievable.

    - The choices the captain of the book were questionable. You're flying humanities only first and only interstellar spaceship and you threw caution into the wind, not once but several times for this flimsiest of reasons. In real life this guy would have been screened out of the NASA selection process on the first round. He's a real James T Kirk vs Jean Luc.

    - With all due respect, I found the whole premise of our civilization showing up at key moment in another alien culture's 8000 year history (which includes interstellar travel) and we save the day, as hubristic. Yeah, North American's save the day again. In space. I get it that we are the warrior culture and they are peace loving, but I found the whole scenario a bit maddening.

    - I was gobsmacked by the lack of imagination, explanation and the seeming similarity between North American culture and the human/alien culture in the book. The author made little effort to try and sell what should be a completely different society. Yes the technologies were different and they have a different language, but this was sold way short.

    - I did not like the narrator. You had several hyper masculine characters in play and his main voice did not seem to fit. His accents for the alien race were lackluster, but he did do female voices quite well. That's not always the case.

    I'm going to give the second book a chance. Despite its flaws, the world and story does have potential and I'm hoping the author will take more time to explore the personalities of his characters and the challenges they are confronting. Will keep my fingers crossed.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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