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Howard

Concord, MA, United States | Member Since 2011

68
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 21 reviews
  • 33 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014
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37

  • The Troupe

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Robert Jackson Bennett
    • Narrated By Luis Moreno
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    Best-selling author Robert Jackson Bennett has won widespread critical acclaim for his unique brand of darkly inventive fiction. In The Troupe, 16-year-old George Carole joins vaudeville in search of Heironomo Silenus, the man he believes to be his father. But what he discovers casts a dark pall over his world: Silenus' troupe hides a dangerous secret - one that invites death to all in its vicinity.

    Dave says: "Magic On Vaudeville"
    "Not worth the effort!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don' understand the positive reviews. I am an avid fantasy/fiction reader and listener (I know have 300+ audible books in my library). Reading the reviews I thought I would get something different, refreshing and "period" (vaudeville).

    I simply could never get engaged in the story. I found Mr Moreno boring and flat) and the characters, flat and crude. THere was no warmth, no human interest- simply characters being pushed around in service of a pretty unique fantasy construct. But the construct was not enough to build a novel around. I must admit I made it 50% of the way through the thing and finally said "why I am torturing myself?" this is just plain boring.

    I love Black Company, LOTR, first three books in G RR Martin's series (the last two suxed), Sherlock Holmes, Murder Mysteries ("I Would Know You Anywhere" being a favorite, WOT (excepting books 8-9), anything Brandon Sanderson writes (to date). So this is not a case of being stuck on one type of fantasy or genre.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5484)
    Performance
    (5214)
    Story
    (5222)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold ""human error"" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "If you like space shots & follow the Mars Rovers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    & NASA this is cream in your coffee. The Martian Adventure is an epic nerd story that literally opens with a bang. Chock full of engineering calculations it manages not to become to serious and plodding because the a well rounded,funny, wise cracking, engineer/botanist Mark Whatney. Overlooking the plot ploy that Whatney is both botanist and Mr fix-it for the mission - this is one plausible and incredible tale- even though it is laced with enough engineering jargon to give me flashbacks to my college thermodynamics courses!
    Whatney's drive and spunk combined with his "never say die" (literally) attitude when confronted with one challenge after another thrown at him by Mars, by his own mistakes and by random equipment failure make this a real treat. Through him we learn how one could grow food on Mars (again a plot device has the crew bring fresh potatoes on board), how equipment (all of it available now I think) can be twisted and used in ways no one imagine to survive in an environment harsher that Antartica at it's coldest.

    The book never gets to Nerdy, nor does it soar to high (about the possibilities of Space and Mankind) rather it is told from the perspective of a workaday brilliant engineer/botanist from Nasa with an incredible dry sense of humor.

    This book is certainly aimed at showing what is possible (a manned mission to Mars using pre-positioned fuel making equipment)- but manages to be loads of fun in the reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (48 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5426)
    Performance
    (5180)
    Story
    (5188)

    In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war.

    D says: "Book !!; no let down- "Words of Radieance" shines"
    "Wow! Sanderson delivers..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In his second MASSIVE installment of the Storm Light Archive Sanderson delivers and even tops the first book in the series. It is, I must say, a bit strange to hear my old friends Michael Kramer and Kate Reading portraying male and female characters (respectively) just like in the old days when I listened to the WOT Series by Jordan on CD pre-audible.

    Sanderson was determined from the first to deliver a fantasy world completely unique and different from any other multi-series fantasy. It is easy to see Jordan's influence on Sanderson- his wide sweep, huge and long existing world (with glimpses and partial explanations - sometime NO explanation of long past events and myths- this is a compliment). This is HIGH fantasy all the way around- if you are a Martin addict or can only read the dark low fantasy Black Company series or something like the Prince of Thorns Series then this is not for you.

    StormLight Archives, despite is unique setting (and I mean unique SF "other worldly" like setting) is a the son of Wheel of Time and a grandson of LOTR. Told from a multi character perspective- SLA incorporates long flowing narratives offset with rapid and well paced action scenes reinforce. Be forewarned that "Good is Good" ala Tolkien/Jordan- if a good character is doing something bad it is because a) we don't understand then or b) they made a mistake from which they will repent. Hardly any shades of gray- you are either one of Kalladan's stalworts that ends up worshipping him- or you are a scum evil doer. I exaggerate to some degree- but this is so in the main.
    To be clear : I am not complaining- a good vs evil, black vs. white story is just the thing occasionally and the SLA is that simply that. Take it or leave it.

    The plot revolves around four main characters- and I like all four of them- they are great. Jordan excels in plotting mysteries- and setting clues- the chapter heads were leading me around in circles but at the end they all circle home- along with the many plot lines for one of the best climaxes in fantasy. The ending is superb-and outdoes the great one in the previous book. I must say the scenes and story lines with Kalladan fighting his way back without Storm Light were some of the best written by any fantasy reader anywhere. I listen to these books whilst working our and running- and there were a few times I just kept going at my work out long past quitting time so a scene would resolve itself.

    Note I did have to go back and listen to book one- which was a pleasure after three years absence. My guess is trying Words without a warmup from Book 1 would not be a good idea. Three years is simply to long. The set up for book three is there- and the characters are well done and crafted.

    Despite his debt to Jordan Sanderson does not meander aimlessly- well at least not for long. Occasional cul de sacs do occur-but they are enjoyable.

    A great series and a great start! One can only hope that he does not suffer from George Martin Syndrome (no sign of it in any of his books so far) whereby he just starts writing aimless pages of rubbish for some reason- and we can only hope that Sanderson does not start wandering aimlessly for books and books like Jordan did in books 7.5-10 in the WOT series whereby he hopelessly lost the mojo of the original 6 books.

    I can only hope now that he has the final WOT completed that Sanderson will start releasing a book every 12 -18 months. PLEASE!

    But at this point- this is the WOT of the 21st Century...even better perhaps. Well done Mr Sanderson.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Tyrant's Law

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Daniel Abraham
    • Narrated By Pete Bradbury
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (310)
    Performance
    (289)
    Story
    (289)

    The great war cannot be stopped. The tyrant Geder Palliako had led his nation to war, but every victory has called forth another conflict. Now the greater war spreads out before him, and he is bent on bringing peace. No matter how many people he has to kill to do it. Cithrin bel Sarcour, rogue banker of the Medean Bank, has returned to the fold. Her apprenticeship has placed her in the path of war, but the greater dangers are the ones in her past and in her soul.

    Cody says: "Great Story Continues"
    "EXCELLENT book and worth it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Super performance by Pete Bradbury with another installment by Daniel Abraham. Excellent plotting- superb world created (his own not a pale imitation of someone else's). Another surprise ending. The only downside is waiting 3 years for Abraham to complete his next book. If you like medium (Low with a dash of high thrown in) some despicable, yet likable characters- look no further.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • King of Thorns

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Mark Lawrence
    • Narrated By James Clamp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (259)
    Story
    (258)

    The follow-up to Mark Lawrence' s thrilling debut novel Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns continues the tale of antihero Jorg Ancrath. After wresting back control of his kingdom from those who murdered his family, Jorg sees the land erupt with hundreds of battles fought by lords and petty kings. More daunting still, he faces an enemy many times his own strength. Jorg may not be able to win this battle in a fair fight, but he wields a rage and cunning that just might even the odds.

    Stephen says: "Great sequel!"
    "Superb- fantastic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Inspired and original Mark Lawrence continues to improve (and after writing the first in the series which I thought could bear no improvement) "King" continues to follow Jorge in his journey of self discovery and adventure.

    Lawrence continues to reveal himself as potentially one of the 21st century's best fantasy (or is it SCI FI?) authors- but with character and plot development equal to, or better than, any genre.

    I would recommend this to ANYONE who loves great fiction and especially lovers of low FANTASY.

    THANK YOU MARK!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Prince of Thorns

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Mark Lawrence
    • Narrated By James Clamp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (411)
    Performance
    (379)
    Story
    (383)

    Author Mark Lawrence has won over audiences everywhere with Prince of Thorns, his exciting debut novel. Nine-year-old Prince Jorg is forced to watch as his mother and brother are slaughtered. Fleeing the palace, Jorg joins a bloodthirsty band of thugs. But he’s determined to take back what’s rightfully his, so he returns to the castle a few years later - unaware of the dark and powerful magic that awaits.

    Elise Johnson says: "A game of Thorns and Power"
    "Superbly Crafted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you have any interest in low fantasy fiction this is book is equal to or better than any published. Reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie's Red Country in some ways but certainly not derivative there of.

    Jorge is a character that attracts repels, makes me laugh and cringe all within 30 seconds.

    Fantastic book. Read this (or listen) if you read NO OTHER BOOK this year.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Emperor of Thorns: A Broken Empire Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Mark Lawrence
    • Narrated By James Clamp
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (186)
    Story
    (184)

    Jorg would be emperor. It is a position not to be gained by the sword but rather by vote. And never in living memory has anyone secured a majority of the vote, leaving the Broken Empire long without a leader. Jorg has plans to change that - one way or the other. He’s uncovered even more of the lost technology of the land, and he won’t hesitate to use it. But he soon finds an adversary standing in his way, a necromancer unlike any he has ever faced - a figure hated and feared even more than himself: the Dead King. The boy who would rule all may have finally met his match....

    Just Marvel Me says: "Entire Adoration"
    "Superbly crafted; a MASTERPIECE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Better than the best. No comparison would be apt with any living author. Lawrence's series on Prince, King, Emperor improves with each book and improves with each reading. After the release of "Emperor" I started back and listened to "Prince" and "King" and found myself wondering why I had not listened to them again after the first hearing.

    Emperor caps a fantastic series- low & dark fantasy layer onto realistic dystopic science fiction with intricate, fascinating and super character development of Jorge- love him, despise him, be attracted to, or repelled by Jorge in one page or chapter- he truly belongs with Frodo Baggins in the pantheon of fictional characters.

    What a book- sad when it ended.

    Lawrence is EMPEROR of Fantasy and Science Fiction- with this trifecta!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    Overall
    (228)
    Performance
    (81)
    Story
    (82)

    Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and veteran author William R. Forstchen combine their talents in this powerful and rousing alternate history of the most legendary Civil War clash.

    A User says: "Good book, but..."
    "Surprisingly good and recommended!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Full disclosure- I am a military history buff and I have read many of the what if's of Gettysburg plus numerous hard cover books on the Civil War (I tend to listen to fiction on audible). With Newt Gingrich as author, and my distaste for him (he irritates me) and his politics (which I find distasteful) I ALMOST did not purchase this and listen.

    This would have been a huge mistake. It is well done- and having toured the battlefield (as part of a staff ride for two days) and read at least 2 dozen books on the campaign and at least three or four what-if books- I found this book compelling. It is a little Lee worshipful (over the top) but if one overlooks this - the players in the book behave within expected and historical boundaries (Meade is a plodder and works by consensus- whilst Lee, who was incapacitated to some degree to an intestinal disorder, probably mild dystentery during the actual campaign) act within these bounds. Lee, as he did at Chancellorsville and Second Mannassas takes charge and leads from the front.

    Stuart is recalled early (plausibly) whilst Lee executes his ideal of a flanking march within the operational theater. I could follow all of the movements in my head (having walked the battlefield twice over a six day period) an even knew where Big Pipe Creek was (and Longstreets thinking regarding such). However a non expert would have problem following this- and someone not versed in civil war military history (and this campaign) might find it tedious and confusion.

    Other than the undeserved hagiography of Lee (a construct of the post civil war) this is a flawless exercise in fictional history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Lyndsay Faye
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1342)
    Performance
    (1001)
    Story
    (996)

    Breathless and painstakingly researched, this is a stunning debut mystery in which Sherlock Holmes unmasks Jack the Ripper. Lyndsay Faye perfectly captures all the color and syntax of Conan Doyle’s distinctive nineteenth-century London.

    connie says: "the best of both Holmes"
    "Excellent "Doyle Imitation" as good as an"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an excellent Sherlock Holmes adventure - as good as any of the "Non Doyle" written Cannon. In fact it would be very hard to distinguish this from Doyle- excepting that the subject matter and treatment would have been to gruesome for publication by Doyle (Faye sidesteps this by having "Watson" write and publish this in his very old age in the late 1930's as the World nears the Second War).

    The feel, language and plot are vintage Holmes - but in a relaxed manner- it never veers into conscious imitation that can in turn become parody like. There are some inconsistencies- but that actually makes it seem authentic because as every Holmes fan knows Doyle would frequently change things about Holmes and his setting behavior that were at odds with previous stories and adventures. Oddly enough these minor inconsistencies (which are noted in Doyle's work by fans) work to make this seem part of the canon (the subject matter issue aside).

    It also avoids the spectacular "Crown Prince or Consort" plot that bedevils some of the Ripper theories- and is Holmesian in its conclusion (a slight surprise ending but well done).

    When I realized that this was the author's first effort I was even more impressed. A great investment and I actually plan (as soon as I finish other Audible Book series I have in the que) to try her series on Turn of the Century New York City Police.

    Well done and well worth it if you are a Holmes fan or a mystery buff.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • I'd Know You Anywhere

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Laura Lippman
    • Narrated By Linda Emond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (964)
    Performance
    (287)
    Story
    (291)

    In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears. Though Eliza wants nothing to do with him, she's never forgotten that Walter was most unpredictable when ignored.

    Susan says: "I found the reason compelling"
    "Compelling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not just a detective novel (nothing wrong with that) this is a SERIOUS and compelling work of fiction. As a 51 year old I found myself back in the land of 1970s: malls, Orange Julius, teenage angst and the innocence of the 70's that had yet to be marred by the hideous kidnapping and murder of children.

    Don't let that throw you- this is NOT a horror or "true crime slasher" exploiting the abduction of children- but a carefully crafted work that I found compelling and enlightening.

    Simply superb!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Long Earth: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
    • Narrated By Michael Fenton-Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (626)
    Performance
    (551)
    Story
    (557)

    The Western Front, 1916. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong and the wind in the leaves. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone? Madison, Wisconsin, 2015. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive - some say mad, others allege dangerous - scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson find a curious gadget.

    colleen says: "A Different Pratchett"
    "HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Failure to Deliver"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    With two authors like this (Pratchett and Baxter) I was expecting MORE (granted I have not read their works in years). The premise is cool- one can travel through and two parallel Earths that reflect different evolutionary outcomes- most of which have life- but very few with sentient beings.

    Character development was abysmal-very much like early science fiction- they are simply their to move the idea and plot to its conclusion. Paperboard cutouts- and after one get the idea of the premise and concept- it become VERY predictable and BORING (despite the execution of the brilliant idea).

    Save your self money- not worth the effort. I quit about 7/8 through it- to far to ethically ask Audible for my money back-but at the end I had learned all I wanted to about their idea of parallel and accessible Earths and really did not care whether the main characters lived or died or killed each other (which I would have welcomed about an hour before I finally gave up.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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