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Kamal

Management consultant, video game player, avid reader of all types of books, and happily married father of four. I'll read just about anything, from Fantasy and SciFi, to mysteries and ChickLit.

Brampton, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2001

81
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 35 reviews
  • 275 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
4

  • Torch of Freedom

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By David Weber, Eric Flint
    • Narrated By Peter Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (311)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (209)

    As the slavemasters of Mesa plot against the Star Empire of Manticore and the newly liberated slave planet of Torch, Anton Zilwicki and the notorious Havenite secret agent Victor Cachat set off on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth concerning a wave of mysterious assassinations that have been launched against Manticore and Torch.

    Mark Henderson says: "Filled in the blanks on the main story line."
    "He talks alot, but doesn't have much to say"
    Overall

    This is the most disappointing novel I've yet read from David Weber. The characters spend a LOT of time just talking, and their witty reparte (somehow they're almost all witty with a wry sense of humour and sarcasm) takes up the bulk of the book. There's very little combat or action, and very little new plot. What plot there is, is really just a bit of backstory on some of the happenings in the larger Honorverse. I won't say it should be avoided, but it might be better to read it where you can skim through some of the boring bits - like the beginning, when almost 1 hour or more is spent on a long, drawn out political discussion with little context as to what it has to do with the rest of the story.

    5 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Gears of War: The Slab

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Karen Traviss
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (98)

    Ten years after Emergence Day, as the Locust Horde advances on humanity’s last defended area -Ephyra - in a bloody war that has seen billions die, Marcus Fenix does the unthinkable: he defies orders and abandons his post during a critical battle in a bid to rescue his father, weapons scientist Adam Fenix. But Adam is buried in the rubble during a ferocious assault on the Fenix mansion, and Ephyra falls to the enemy.

    Nicholas A. Croson says: "Another Karen Traviss masterpiece."
    "Bittersweet return to the world of Sara"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're a fan of the Gears of War game series on the XBox 360, you'll appreciate Karen Traviss' books to fill in the backstory and to fill the gaps between the games. Written primarily as a prequel to the games, this book fills in the blanks on just why Marcus Fenix was in prison, and what is the relationship between the Locust Queen Myrrah and Adam Fenix, that is alluded to heavily in GoW3. The book ends (unsuprisingly and without spoilers) shortly after Dom frees Marcus from prison, where the first GoW game starts off. How Marcus ended up in prison, how long he was there, and how he ended up there alone, are all answered.

    Along the way, Traviss really humanizes these characters. She lets us really see the heart of the brotherly relationship between Marcus and Dom, the repressed feelings between Marcus and Anya, and the complex balance of power between Chairman Richard Prescott, Colonel Hoffman, and Adam Fenix. Along the way, we see the explanation of just why Azura exists.

    Unfortunately, there are still many questions left unanswered - who are the sires? Where did the Locust come from? What really happened to Elayn Fenix? Who is Myrrah?

    I've seen the internet theories, but I'd like to see this properly explained, the main game series is over now so perhaps its time to fill in the blanks properly. Then again, maybe we'll see some infill games now that will explain this better.

    The biggest surprise to me was the humanization of Chairman Prescott. The games leave the impression that he's just a power-mad jerk, but this book really shows us that he's doing the best he can in an impossible and hopeless situation.

    I like just about everything Karen Traviss writes - lots of infill, interesting and believable characters, gritty story, etc. Definitely a worthwhile purchase. I can't wait for the next one!

    MKS

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inferno: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9593)
    Performance
    (8705)
    Story
    (8776)

    In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

    linda says: "Well, I don't know what I was expecting"
    "Another thrilling ride through Renaissance Italy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dan Brown (via his main character Robert Langdon) again returns to Italy, the previous setting of Angels and Demons, this time with a mad plot centered on the themes of Dante's Inferno. An interesting twist on the story, is that the main villain kills himself in the first scene of the book, but has set in motion of series of horrifying events that conjure up a feeling of unspeakable dread and inevitability.

    Starting with the somewhat hackneyed premise of the amnesiac waking up in a hospital, and not remembering where is he or what he's done, the story soon picks up the pace and basically doesn't letup until the end.

    A few interesting plot twists along the way turns some of our initial conclusions and beliefs on their heads, and Dan Browns familiar obsession with symbology, art, conspiracy and secrecy, all make their welcome return. Unfortunately, so does his moralizing on the latest issue of the day, overpopulation of the planet, and justification of ecoterrorism. At least he has the decency to present both sides of the issue and let us derive our own conclusions rather than bashing us over the heads with his own viewpoint - though the story I think, ends with his own viewpoint reigning supreme.

    At least the "terrorists" are not the stereotypical arab or Muslim villains.

    Definitely a worthwhile purchase if you are a Dan Brown / Robert Langdon fan.

    MKS

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Last Argument of Kings: The First Law: Book Three

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joe Abercrombie
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    Overall
    (2749)
    Performance
    (1985)
    Story
    (1996)

    The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend and his oldest enemy. It’s time for the Bloody-Nine to come home. With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no-one is safe and no-one can be trusted.

    Lore says: "You have be realistic about these things."
    "A great conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike some authors, Abercrombie truly wraps up his trilogy in - shocking - 3 volumes! :)

    He wraps up the main storyline while leaving enough loose threads handy for followup stories (which are also excellent by the way). I'm very happy I was tuned in to this author.

    As for the story, we see the various plot lines for the Cripple, the King, the Wizard, and the Bloody Nine and his gang, come to somewhat surprising conclusion. We learn the true nature of the Bank, and the true villain is....!

    Great dialogue, clever lines, and some great, over-the-top violence.

    I have since gone on to consume the next three books set in the same world, and each continues the tradition of bloody excellence!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Legion

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3293)
    Performance
    (2983)
    Story
    (3045)

    Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his 'aspects' are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

    Joshua says: "The only flaw..."
    "Interesting premise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As usual, Sanderson bring his imaginative A-game, with a new and interesting premise of a man with multiple personalities that he manifests to solve different problems. This was a good introduction, I'd like to see it developed in a longer format, to fill in more of the sketched-in background and pick up some of the undeveloped plot threads.

    You can't beat free, and it was more than worth its price! :)

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anathem

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1786)
    Performance
    (794)
    Story
    (802)

    In celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.

    Richard says: "Tour de force"
    "Give it a chance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book was a bit difficult to get into, with many new, fictitious words being introduced without the proper context, kind of expecting us to understand what they mean. Eventually most of these are described or defined, either through the story or through short passages from the "New Dictionary".

    While the overall plot doesn't have a lot of surprises, its the exposition on the basic philosophy behind the plot, that provides the real meat of the story. An interesting view into a world where academia becomes a world of its own, quite literally separated from the rest of society both physically and socially, with its own world of custom and practise.

    Give it time, and you'll come to enjoy the story - there are no great heroics, but the characters are likeable.

    Oliver Wyman is the main narrator, the others provide supporting voices for things like chapter headings and definitions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Midst Toil and Tribulation: Safehold Series, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Weber
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (558)
    Performance
    (511)
    Story
    (507)

    After centuries of stasis, the island kingdom of Charis began to defy the edicts of the Church of God Awaiting - egged on, some say, by the mysterious warrior-monk Merlin Athawes. Now, in the wars and intrigues that have cascaded from Charis's declaration of independence, the populous Republic of Siddermark is sliding into chaos.

    Ryan says: "Narrator is HORRIBLE - Love this series"
    "Why the new narrator?!?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story progresses well in this latest installment, and there is a good amount of plot development, with a greater focus on land battles than the naval battles of previous volumes.

    The narrator might be tolerable enough, he has a good range of voices and does a good job adding some "character" to the various individuals, especially with the cast of hundreds that Weber typically has in these books.

    However, I cannot for the life of me understand why the narrator had to change the accents, voices, and even the prononciations of each of the characters. I can understand a shift in tone with a new narrator, but I winced each time I heard him butcher the prononciation of each word, whether the name of the countries, or the names of the characters. Did he not even listen to the previous volumes to get a bit of consistancy? That was just inexcusable. Where were the producers?

    I have listened to the entire series from the beginning on audiobook, and while the two previous narrators were both good, the shift in accents for the main characters was jarring enough when switching between the first and second narrators. With the shift again with the third narrator, it very much undermines the relationship that we listeners have built with the main characters, and the change in how the names are pronounced (Nimoo to Nimoway - phonetically), etc is very jarring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Joe Abercrombie
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    Overall
    (3708)
    Performance
    (2658)
    Story
    (2672)

    Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain and shallow, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

    Steven says: "Steven Pacey is magnificient."
    "A promising start"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A fast paced start to the trilogy, it seems that the characters have just been introduced before the story is over. Each of the main characters is deeply flawed in some major way - a vain, shallow aristocrat, a bloody, psychotic barbarian, a murderous, crazed former slave-girl, a sorry, slow, magician's apprentice, and a bitter, crippled inquisitor. All have been marked deeply by life, and pulled together by a brotherhood of mages to take on an ancient evil reawakened.

    A more unlikely group of heroes, I don't think I've come across.

    The narrator does an excellent job of imbueing each of the characters with distinct voices, and just the right tone of voice to capture the the subtler nuances of each characters circumstances. He even manages to bring a "voice" to a mute character with no tongue.

    Just enough of the history and geography of the world has been established to whet your appetite for more.

    I look forward to the next volume!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5413)
    Performance
    (5045)
    Story
    (5041)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Ken says: "It's all about the codas"
    "Too hip for its own good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An interesting premise - finally an explanation for why the anonymous "Red shirts" from the famous TV series keep dying off. I felt though, that most of the characters lacked depth (or was that intentional?), and it was a bit "meta". However, it was a good, enjoyable comedy along the lines of many Christopher Moore books with some dry humor and a break-neck plot pacing.

    A good light-hearted diversion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bioshock: Rapture: Bioshock, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By John Shirley
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (261)
    Performance
    (248)
    Story
    (248)

    It was the end of World War II. FDR's New Deal had redefined American politics. Taxes were at an all-time high. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had created a fear of total annihilation. The rise of secret government agencies and sanctions on business had many watching their backs. America's sense of freedom was diminishing... and many were desperate to take that freedom back.

    Jason says: "YAAY! Finally . . . Wait, What!?"
    "Ties in nicely with the games"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book fills in much of the backstory that was just hinted at in the games, and serves to tie together the plot from both Bioshock games. No real surprises, but it did make me want to go back and replay the first game, and finally finish the second. If you were a fan of the Bioshock games, then you'll want to buy this book. If you were not, its still a good read, though not very subtle or particularly well-written. That's not really a knock against the author - the story had enough twists on its own, but he's working within a very rigid framework, more so than other works set in rich IPs.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Symbol

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8837)
    Performance
    (3068)
    Story
    (3143)

    Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol. Within minutes of his arrival, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object is discovered in the Capitol Building. The object is an ancient invitation, meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of hidden esoteric wisdom. And when Langdon's mentor is kidnapped, Langdon's only hope of saving him is to accept this invitation and follow wherever it leads him.

    Frank says: "Not his best"
    "Gripping!"
    Overall

    There are very few books that I literally could not put down, and this is one of them. While the real identity of the "villain" was pretty obvious (at least to me), the constant, breakneak pace just does not relent, driving Robert Langdon (and ourselves) constantly through a single, helter-skelter night. The only disappointment I had was the wishy-washy moralization and prosletyzation at the end of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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