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Houston | Member Since 2012

  • 9 reviews
  • 48 ratings
  • 368 titles in library
  • 1 purchased in 2015

  • I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This!: and Other Things That Strike Me as Funny

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Bob Newhart
    • Narrated By Bob Newhart

    That stammer. Those basset-hound eyes. That bone-dry wit. There has never been another comedian like Bob Newhart. In this, his first audiobook ever, Newhart gives his brilliant and bemused twist on a multitude of topics, including flying, the trials of a family holiday in a Winnebago, and more serious subjects, such as golf. And, of course, there are side-splittingly funny stories from his life and career. Who else has a drinking game named after him? ("Hi, Bob!")

    Kerry says: "I love Bob!"

    I grew up on Bob Newhart, mainly his two sitcoms with a few stand-up routines thrown in. Thus, I felt I unnderstood his comic style and looked forward to this book. Alas, it went down like cheap Chinese food and left me still hungry. Even granting allowances for Bob's dead-pan delivery, the narrative doesn't seem to take the reader/listener much anywhere. I found myself wanting to know more about Bob's network years and the people he knew.

    I did rate this book 3 stars because Bob Newhart has been one of the more pleasant icons in our times. Perhaps the weakneess of this offering lies with its editing. I don't know, it just left me lukewarm.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Rembrandt Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Daniel Silva
    • Narrated By Phil Gigante
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Determined to sever his ties with the Office, Gabriel Allon has retreated to the windswept cliffs of Cornwall with his beautiful Venetian-born wife, Chiara. But once again his seclusion is interrupted by a visitor from his tangled past: the endearingly eccentric London art dealer Julian Isherwood. As usual, Isherwood has a problem. And it is one only Gabriel can solve.

    Alexis says: "Silva and Gigante -- A Superb Team!!!"

    Amazing. Simply amazing. Silva has done it again. Fine writing weaving the famed fictional Israeli agent, Gabriel Allon, into current events. I love this series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • With the Lightnings: RCN Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By David Drake
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine, David Drake
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Daniel Leary is a lieutenant in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy with no money and no prospects since he quarreled with his ruthless, politically powerful father. Adele Mundy is a scholar with no money and no prospects since her family was massacred for conspiring against the Government of Cinnabar. Kostroma is a wealthy planet which depends on diplomacy to stay independent in a galaxy whose two great powers, Cinnabar and the Alliance, battle for supremacy.

    E. Atkinson says: "Master and Commander in Space"
    "Master and Commander -- Lite"

    David Drake touts this series as an analog of Patrick O'Brian's Aubry/Maturin series, and it is that. Drake is, however, not as good a writer as O'Brian was. The former's style is simpler and less refined. Perhaps Drake is aiming at a younger audience, who knows. I am on the fourth in the series now, and I find myself growing tired of repetitive exchanges between the two principles. I also wonder if Drake has any real military experience, because the behavior of his "RCN" is inconsistent with both O'Brian's Royal Navy and John G. Hemry's much more realistic science fiction military series'.

    Still, the stories are serviceable enough.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Windup Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman.

    Marius says: "Al Gore nightmare meets Blade Runner."
    "Sorry, but no winner"

    The diversity of reviews for this entry is stunning. Are we listening to different books? Yes, the narrative is very rich, and no, I didn't have trouble with the foreign words and names. Reading (or listening to) SF does require a certain degree of mental agility as you are inherently dealing with the unfamiliar. Fair enough.

    No, the problem I have with this work is that, to paraphrase one reviewer, Bacigalupi doesn't seem to have looked at a science book dated after 1970. He blithely ignores existing non-oil-based energy sources in his determination to create his energy-starved dystopia. Ok, other authors have made larger leaps, but Bacigalupi even ignores basic physics laws in describing the stuttering motion programmed into his bio-engineered title character. Any Bio-engineer would immediately spot that such stutter-stop movements would automatically waste far more energy.

    Sorry, but this book takes the audience on a long, slow ride into a nonsensical world that literally does not compute. (With all that broiling sunshine, why isn't Thailand lousy with electricity?)

    I vote to mulch Bacigalupi.

    3 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Storm Front: The Dresden Files, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By James Marsters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters.

    Tom says: "Excellent Story, Distracting Sound Engineering"
    "Just a Hoot"

    Imagine a cross of Phillip Marlowe and Harry Potter. Not quite, but close. Harry operates in Chicago, not England, and the use of msgic is not in the conciousness of John Q. Otherwise, Harry could be Phillip's brother, right down to the sardonic humor.

    James Marsters is excellent as the reader, capturing Harry Dresden's wit and personality. He does a decent job with "Bob" too.

    All in all, a fun "read." Not War and Peace, but a fine way to clear the mental palette.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In a time long forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons off balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. As the cold returns, sinister forces are massing beyond the protective wall of the kingdom of Winterfell. To the south, the king's powers are failing, with his most trusted advisor mysteriously dead and enemies emerging from the throne's shadow.

    DCinMI says: "Review of First 5 Books"
    "A long and winding road"

    By my nature, I am not big on fantasy. Yet, having devoured the original Pern series in my youth, I admit to a certain tolerance for things to do with dragons. That's why I picked up this tome.

    Indeed, "tome" seems an apt description of this book. The audio version weighs in at a hefty 39 hours, enough to cause me to wonder if Mr. Martin's publisher evaluated his work by its weight! To be sure, Mr. Martin has no shortage of depth to his work. Other reviewers have noted the abundance of story threads that intertwine like wisps of smoke from a growing fire. In fact, a "growing fire" is a fair description of this first book of the series, because it is really set up for subsequent books. But, the set-up stories are as meaty and compelling as the roasted haunches served at the feasts. You end up caring about even the most annoying of the protagonists.

    This book must be called an "adult fantasy" in that it makes no effort to sugar-coat how life would be on such a world. One of the story threads deals with how one of the young female protagonists must face the destruction of her fantasies. This unnamed world is not gentle, and I think that's why I finished the book. It's fantasy, but not a child's fantasy.

    Long live the dire wolves!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • 21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Patrick O'Brian
    • Narrated By Patrick Tull
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Best-selling author Patrick O'Brian became a legend with his beloved Aubrey-Maturin seafaring tales. O'Brian received further attention with the critically acclaimed film adaptation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards┬┐ and won two.

    Casey says: "A Sad Farewell"
    "A taste, but just"

    I haven't written a book review since my school days so the rust is thick. Still, I must beg to differ with Richard Snow's Afterword. Yes, 21 does give us a taste of some of the characters we love, but only just. We get no sense of closure on one of the most faithful characters, dear Surprise. We hear that she has shlepped home, but to what end? Aubrey and Maturin may be eternally sailing toward a unknown horizon, but their loyal friend more likely faces a sad end.

    Then too, I approach the series on a different tact than did Snow. I consumed the series in about 18 months so I doubt I shared his hunger for another appetitizer of O'brian's writing. Indeed, I have sometimes found the style verging on obtuse. Luckily, the previous tales have been compelling enough to draw me along. It is regrettable that 21 doesn't get that far. Still, I shall miss Jack, Stephen, and their entourage. Fare thee well.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappeared: A Retrieval Artist Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Kristine Kathryn Rusch
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Retrieval Artists help the lost find their way back home, whether they like it or not. Specialized private detectives, they investigate the most unusual crimes in the galaxy. But Miles Flint isn't a Retrieval Artist. He's just a cop, trying to do his job.

    Phelix_da_Kat says: "Sprint finish.."
    "And I Paid for This?"

    It is true that the plot of a novel sometimes cannot avoid driving from points A to B over well-worn stones, but the plot of this one my dog could sniff out in her sleep. The fate of the main protagonist was apparent within two hours. Not good.

    I think the main flaw in this novel is Rusch's stunning lack of understanding of human nature. Our history is an ever-quickening march toward individualism. The individual is, for better or worse, gaining power faster than he is losing it. To propose that government could get away with placing interstellar treaties above the lives of children is unrealistic in the extreme. A totalitarian regime might be able to make that stick, but not the society Rusch draws for us. One scandal would lead to interstellar war.

    As another reviewer observed, perhaps this was intended to be a juvenile series. Adults should steer clear.

    12 of 33 people found this review helpful
  • Ringworld

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Larry Niven
    • Narrated By Tom Parker

    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"
    "Ringed Disappointment"

    I'm 51 so I grew up in the golden era of the Hugo and Nebula awards. Ringworld was always on my list of books I wanted to read but never quite got to. When it was recommended on a recent TWIT podcast, I snapped up the audio book to fill that old omission. Now I wish I hadn't.

    Yes, I am older now with a more critical mind, but Ringworld suffers from a couple of flaws of its own making. First, it hasn't aged well. Characters refer to technology that was very much an artifact of the 1960's and 70's. "Tapes" are a good example. Even if the listener mentally updates the technology used, parts of the story fall flat because we already have better solutions. I've written just enough scifi to appreciate how hard it is to predict future tech, but Ringworld feels "phoned in."

    The greater difficulty I have with Ringworld is that Niven ends up turning Luck into a controling deity with free will being an illusion. Ok, that is a hypothesis to be made, but Niven never does. His climatic resolution drives the reader right up to the cliff's edge and then strands him there. Quite annoying.

    I realize Audible has Ringworld Children, but I'm not sure I could stomach Teela's "luck" another microsecond!

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful

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