This is one of the few science fiction works that I often recommend to people who are not devoted sci-fi readers. Card does such a wonderful job of developing the characters in this book that it's worth the read even if you don't enjoy the science / futurism. This is an intense novel in which the tension--and the final impact--is heightened throughout the piece, and the technology never gets in the way of Card's terrific storytelling skills. The entire Ender series is worth reading, but Ender's Game is already a classic. On an audible note, the narration here was enjoyable and did a nice job capturing the characters.
I read "Odd Thomas" and a few other Koontz novels and was impressed. Thought I'd try out this one--maybe something like "The Stand." Very disappointed--it almost felt like he started the book, got bored with it, and just finished it up quickly (without any original thought) in order to put something in print. Don't waste much time with this one...
A documentary with the pace and appeal of a novel, this book delves into the history and detail of the diamond industry. De Beers' control of the diamond trade remains one of the most complete monopolies in the world, yet it also remains one of the most secretive groups in the world. This work takes you on a journey, tracing some of the famous diamonds through history as well as explaining the process that creates the diamonds we see today in jewelry stores. Terrific listening material!
Burke's "Jolie Blon" is a great story that relies more on the character development than on the suspense of the mystery. The author creates a terrific atmosphere and a believable, sympathetic character in this novel; after listening to this book, I will definitely look for more of Burke's works. The narration left a bit to be desired, however. Hammer's narration was adequate to the task, but was fairly monotone throughout. He managed to cover all the basics, but did not truly capture the style of the geographic and cultural setting. All in all, I really liked the story, but could have wished for a somewhat better narrator.
The premise is not a bad one--a prequel that provides chronological foundation for many of the references, and even the prejudices, that set the stage for Frank Herbert's Dune. The problem is that the genius of Dune lay in Frank Herbert's storytelling and plot creation. The "wheels within wheels" setup of Dune is weakly re-created here, and the authors do far too much telling rather than showing. The characters are badly drawn stereotypes that fail to draw in the reader. So much of this book is simply rehashed sci-fi from earlier novels that "The Butlerian Jihad" will only appeal to diehard Dune fans who love the plotlines so much that they will forgive the poor writing (and even they may be disappointed). When I think of the Dune series and Frank Herbert's masterwork, I prefer to exclude this piece. Also, the narrator, while adequate to the task, sounds maddeningly the same all the time. There is little true modulation or creation of mood, and he does not have a true grasp of character (or the voice differences that different motivation should create). Read this if you must, but balance out this piece of fluff with some Niven, Asimov, Clarke, Card, or other more substantial writers.
If you've ever read any of the Sandman comics (and especially if you are a fan), this piece will live up to all your expectations. Gaiman takes a unique twist on the Snow White fairytale to present a macabre and disturbing story. The narrator impressively manages to capture the spirit of the writing--not an easy thing for any Gaiman story. An excellent listen!
This piece starts off well enough, with an interesting premise and some good history to ground the suspense. But Brown's characters lack both realism and continuity. In several points during the novel, I was frankly surprised at the actions or reactions of some of the characters portrayed. The narration is adequate, but the author's inability to stay true to his characters is the book's ultimate flaw.
Terrific story that is almost beyond belief! You truly get a sense of Frank Abagnale in the course of this book--including a fairly strong dose of both arrogance and self-aggrandizement, but that actually adds to the quality. The narrator does a terrific job, truly capturing the spirit of both Abagnale and his hapless victims. Only one complaint: Abagnale's book omits some of the best parts of his story--i.e., his release from prison and subsequent work with the FBI. For my money, the movie has a better conclusion, but the book is absolutely worth a listen!
The Yellow Claw is not a badly-written story, but definitely reflects the prose style of the period. If a reader prefers more modern styles--e.g., Patterson, Lehane, George, Kellerman, etc.--this mystery will likely disappoint. But it's a good trip to a previous writing era. The narrator definitely detracts from the story--lack of expressiveness, odd sense of timing & flow, very little "feel" for the characters.
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