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Jason

Seattle, WA, United States | Member Since 2009

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 10 reviews
  • 212 ratings
  • 504 titles in library
  • 34 purchased in 2014
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  • The Terminal Experiment

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Paul Hecht
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (102)

    An experiment has gone terribly wrong. Dr. Peter Hobson has created three electronic simulations of his own personality. One will test life after death; another, immortality. The third one is the control unit. But now all three have escaped from Hobson's computer into the worldwide electronic matrix. And one of them is a killer.

    David says: "Incredible"
    "Pulpy and common- An easy listen with nothing new."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If I had to describe the book in a word, it would be "unoriginal."

    The major concepts have been been tired for years, having been thoroughly explored in B grade television sci-fi anthologies (i.e. Outer Limits) and present nothing new. The characters have some minor depth, but are never developed enough for me to care about them, an essential feature in a book where the universe and vision of the future are hackneyed ideas. I don't recommend this book at all, unless you are specifically looking for something that feels like a made-for-TV SyFy channel movie extended into many hours of audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dreams and Shadows: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By C. Robert Cargill
    • Narrated By Vikas Adam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (44)

    There is another world than our own - one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares - where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same. Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish.

    hermanous says: "An Amazing Book"
    "Quality of a teen fright novel, unbearable reader"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from C. Robert Cargill and/or Vikas Adam?

    If Cargill wrote novels for adults, I would try them. As far as Adams's shrill, cringe-inducing reading, I'd just as soon go without.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    That's not relevant to this review.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Most of Adams's reading was acceptable, but some of his voices, particularly of children, were nails-on-chalkboard grating, coming out as a cross of a movie gremlin and Karl from Sling Blade.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment. The comparison to Neil Gaiman was particularly unhelpful. Though both authors do draw on the dark side of fairy lore, that's where the similarities end.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was a young adult level horror story. The characters in this story are largely passive, at the whim of the storm of random awful events that befall them, and to no useful storytelling purpose.

    *slight spoiler*: In particular, a group of oversexed teens get high on hallucinogenic mushrooms and proceed to get themselves graphically dismembered by evil forest creatures. This is a good example of the quality of the book as a whole.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Forge of Darkness: Kharkanas Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs)
    • By Steven Erikson
    • Narrated By Daniel Philpott
    Overall
    (173)
    Performance
    (154)
    Story
    (157)

    Forge of Darkness takes listeners to Kurald Galain, the warren of Darkness, and tells of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in the fall of the Malazan Empire and surrounds one of the Malazan world’s most fascinating and powerful characters, Anomander Rake. It’s a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, where Mother Dark reigns above the Tiste people. But this ancient land was once home to many a power...and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners’ great hero, Vatha Urusander, longs for ascendency and Mother Dark’s hand in marriage, but she has taken another Consort, Lord Draconus.

    Michael says: "A Precursor Epic Fantasy - A Rewarding Beginning!"
    "Great book for fans of the Erikson style"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Forge of Darkness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Fairly high, though not my favorite Erikson novel, still much better than a typical fantasy. This certainly is not a book for those who want fast pacing, lots of action, and quick resolutions.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Forge of Darkness?

    Because this book is a prequel which delivers the promise of lore made mostly in Erikson's Malazan books, the most memorable moments are those that reward you for having seen the future, and how these events will shape it.


    Which character – as performed by Daniel Philpott – was your favorite?

    Philpott is not my favorite reader of Erikson, and his pronunciation of certain fantasy words is... disappointing, but he does the character dialogue justice. Anomander Rake and Lord Draconus in particular.


    Any additional comments?

    The pacing is (by normal standards) *very* slow, and the plot is driven by almost glacial forces of divine interference, political intrigue, and personal ambition. Because of this, I only recommend this book to those who appreciate this approach. Speaking personally, I can't get enough of Erikson's contemplative philosopher kings and warriors.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Discovery of Witches

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10267)
    Performance
    (7712)
    Story
    (7757)

    Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library.

    haesel says: "Where was this woman's editor?"
    "Borderline romance novel for graduates of Twilight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Nothing I can imagine. The tween supernatural romance is so far outside of my desired scope for reading that only a misrepresentation of the book could have gotten me to pick it up in the first place.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Deborah Harkness again?

    It is very doubtful, though I don't blame the author for this. The book was presented on Audible as a modern adult fantasy novel, but is really quite squarely in the Young-Adult genre, with many romance novel tropes. It reeks of the influence of Twilight. The protagonist is hardly out of the gate when she encounters the Sexy Vampire, and a very predictable dangerous/forbidden love ensues. That is the true plot of the novel. The story of the manuscript and her growth as a wielder of magic and as a woman are is really just a backdrop for this romance.

    The book's presentation on Audible needs to be very seriously adjusted to reflect the appropriate audience.


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

    Jennifer Ikeda is a great reader. If not for her reading, I surely would not have completed the book. Ikeda's accents are quite good, her voice has a very wide dynamic and expressive range. The life that she breathes into the Diana saves the character from being just another


    Any additional comments?

    Skip this one unless you really do like the YA supernatural romance novel. For that genre, I suspect it is a good choice.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Gift

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Dave Donovan
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (91)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (83)

    When an elite team of specialists receives a long-awaited first contact from an alien race, it’s nothing like what they’d imagined. The "gifts," from a long-dead but seemingly benevolent alien race, have been sent to help humanity defend itself against an imminent threat. It’s clear that the gifts are intended to help, but at what price? Caught in the middle is Sam Steele, a high-level programmer and veteran with a tragic past, up against the arrogant, intransigent Colonel Eric Web, who considers Steele a loose cannon and is most concerned with giving the United States an edge in the upcoming battle.

    Matthew says: "This Gift is abit of a mess"
    "Mediocre and tedious, I'd skip this one"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    A young reader who hasn't already read much fiction would probably be able to read this without seeing it as a patchwork of tired themes.


    What was most disappointing about Dave Donovan’s story?

    Many things, but I'll try to pick out the things that bothered me most.The antagonist is a cardboard cut-out of a career military bully whose personal goals never advance beyond projecting government power. As for the protagonist, his driving principles are no more complex than "keep them government hands off my alien gift," which is, I guess, an appropriate complement to the flag-waving military robot antagonist. Most of the characters are without any character flaws, have little more than a threadbare scrap of personality, and are utterly forgettable. The protagonist chooses his team of heroes uncritically from a smattering of his personal friends and their families. This very unremarkable good-guy team is full of broad smiles and automatic, frictionless cooperation- as one might expect from a group of well-meaning and gregarious robots. The author isn't capable of any explanation other than direct and very manufactured-sounding exposition in the form of direct Q&A sessions between characters and their "gifts."The only *interesting* part of the story (what the gifts really are, why they are there, and what they intend to do) isn't covered! The story is more about "some guy running around evading the military" than it is about mysterious powers and looming planetary drama.The author thinks that giving someone a scar or


    What didn’t you like about Jeff Cummings’s performance?

    The reader varies between kind of boring and annoying. The voices he affect can be annoying, and he has no gift whatsoever for accents. He also gives virtually everyone an improbable accent. When he's not doing that, he's giving them over-the-top cliche voices. One older character sounds like a Werther's Original commercial. The military-minded antagonist sounds like the Full Metal Jacket drill instructor.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It made logical sense, for the most part. Events were caused by events that preceded them.


    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Hunger Games

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Suzanne Collins
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35908)
    Performance
    (26912)
    Story
    (27296)

    Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

    Teddy says: "The Book Deserves The Hype"
    "Run of the YA Fiction Mill"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about The Hunger Games?

    The main character lacks depth and fails to reveal interesting internal processes. In addition to that, she is almost magically spared having to be the aggressor or "bad guy" in any situation she finds herself in, allowing her to be a rose-perfumed protagonist while those around her make the tough decisions. It saps the life from the story, and with very shallow characters, it leaves little to like.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Suzanne Collins again?

    It is not impossible, but highly unlikely.


    What three words best describe Carolyn McCormick’s performance?

    Unremarkable, forgettable, fair


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Hunger Games?

    Not sure, but I would absolutely have barred the phrase, "The girl who was on fire." It's clumsy to say and read, and sounds ridiculous out loud. It defies common sense about how people respond to catchy, memorable events and names. The ponderous, doubly-passive construction might make sense in dialog once, but for it to catch on like a new fad is absurd.


    Any additional comments?

    True, YAF is slim pickings these days, and it's hard to find anything that isn't a trite retread of "Beverly Hills 90210 + vampires and werewolves." If you *must* read a YAF book and it must be BOTH recent and dystopian, and geared toward teens, then this may actually be the one to read, though City of Ember may be a better choice in that case.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Outstretched Shadow: The Obsidian Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (527)
    Performance
    (303)
    Story
    (309)

    Kellen Tavadon, son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon, thought he knew the way the world worked. His father, leading the wise and benevolent Council of Mages, protected and guided the citizens of the Golden City of the Bells. Young Mages in training---all men, for women were unfit to practice magic---memorized the intricate details of High Magic and aspired to seats on the council.

    Jarred says: "Fascinating World"
    "Mediocre and Ponderous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    It's not likely to be possible. The plot outline is basically sound in theory, but it is fleshed out in a way that I found impossible to enjoy. The only thing that could work would be a complete rewrite of the text. I couldn't decide what age group and audience the book was intended for. Much of the narrative is simplistic, even cliché, and is in a tone one might expect in a young-adult novel. Other sections are graphically violent or describe torture in a way that seem only appropriate for a book written for mature adults. In addition, the story is padded with a lot of irrelevant and uninteresting information. The magic is also disappointing. Most fantasy novels involving supernatural powers have either a rational quasi-science to them, or an appeal to the mysterious and arcane. In this book, magic is frequently like an inscrutable and annoying genie- the characters just want something done, and it is magically accomplished without any explanation, and the characters are given a cost frequently nonsensical. Just one example I found especially irritating is the morality in the story. For saving his life, the magic demands a character be celibate for a year. Even if we gloss over the annoying lack of exploration into how this is accomplished, or how the characters receive the information about the cost to be paid, there are problems. This exchange (celibacy for being saved) is portrayed as self-evidently guided by some ineffable moral force, the “Wild Magic,” which is always shown to demand things like cleaning a cistern, escorting an old woman to the market, and other cloying helpful acts. The implication is that sex is immoral. This strange reflection of rudimentary Victorian sensibilities in the structure of the fantasy appears is obnoxious. That is merely one problem among many.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory again?

    Possibly, but only if reviews indicated that it was written well and for adults by reviewers.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Susan Ericksen?

    I'm not familiar enough with available narrators, but someone experienced in reading books for adults and mature readers. Ericksen reads as though to a child, which would have been appropriate in other circumstances.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Outstretched Shadow?

    Acts of torture are described with a little too much grim enthusiasm. Other than that, no simple scene editing could have done much.


    Any additional comments?

    I stopped listening 90% of the way through- an exceptional event for me. I just couldn't take any more. Save yourself the trouble.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Towers of Midnight: Wheel of Time, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5937)
    Performance
    (3599)
    Story
    (3636)

    The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unraveling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to boil out of the Blight. The sun has begun to set upon the Third Age. Perrin Aybara is now hunted by specters from his past: Whitecloaks, a slayer of wolves, and the responsibilities of leadership. All the while, an unseen foe is slowly pulling a noose tight around his neck....

    Jacob says: "Doesn't wrap as nicely as Gathering Storm"
    "The wheel turns slowly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not as inspired as Sanderson's previous contribution to the WoT series. The individual character story lines are beginning to stutter and slow as badly as they had in book 10 or so. Without providing spoilers, it's at least fair to say that the story *barely* advances in the 1000ish pages this book must be- with the exception of Rand, who, unlike everyone else who is stuck in repeating loops of their previous problems, has suddenly and inexplicably moved ahead. The story should be reaching some kind of climax or at least a plateau, but somehow Sanderson manages to make Tarmon Gaidon drag on like a long airplane flight.

    Worth a listen, but only as a stepping-stone on the WoT path.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pawn of Prophecy: The Belgariad, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By David Eddings
    • Narrated By Cameron Beierle
    Overall
    (1786)
    Performance
    (1011)
    Story
    (1033)

    Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil god Torak sought dominion and drove men and Gods to war. But Belgrath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe. That was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the man without a shadow had haunted him for years.

    Michael says: "My literary "comfort food""
    "Decent Book, Mediocre Reader"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A pretty solid modern fantasy novel, if not especially original. A bit of a Tolkien heritage style quest story with the addition of a coming-of-age story. The three most major characters are all interesting, along with one or two of their companions, but most of the others are shallow and more or less interchangeable. The irritating nonchalance that the characters deal with their quest grates, and I found myself wondering many times why they kept dawdling when they could be wrapping the story up. Eddings didn't convince me that there was anything preventing an easy finish.

    I have rarely felt that an audio book suffered seriously from the choice of reader, but in this case, it is a unfortunately the case. For one thing, he has a tendency to drift around in his accents. As an example, the main character, Garion, drifts between Midwest U.S., Canada, middle-class Londoner, and cockney throughout the books, sometimes sentence to sentence. His failure to pronounce certain words (foliage comes out "foilage") is distracting and annoying. His habit of exaggerated enunciation is also wearing, especially his articles. All of this "a's" are pronounced long-A and "the" as a "thee". Imagine, "Pie is A good dessert after THE main course." Sometimes he sounds like Martha Stewart.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Quicksilver: Book One of The Baroque Cycle

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson
    Overall
    (1755)
    Performance
    (1009)
    Story
    (1036)

    In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe -- in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

    David says: "Be aware of what you're getting into"
    "A beautifully crafted world that goes nowhere fast"
    Overall

    My feelings are mixed. On one hand, the writing style is fairly clever, but there is nothing to move the story forward. As a reader, a vision of an alternate pre-enlightenment era is entirely insufficient in itself to warrant so much reading. This book reads like a late-era European history textbook with a narrative structure. I was never enthralled by the lives and doings of boring rich gentlemen the first time around, and adding a bit of sci-fi to their lives does not, in itself, nudge them into being interesting. Even still, I'm sure I'd have probably enjoyed the book if it had had an interesting plot, (environment and characters being already dismissed to my mind,) but alas, the plot, again, reads like a historical account. The tides of history aren't an interesting plot in and of themselves. For me, there needs to be some serious degree of human drama to propel the story, and there mostly isn't. For readers who enjoy the style, the victorian language, and period, and love the idea of combining something magical with it, I recommend Clarke's "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" instead.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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