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Shellbin

Member Since 2009

65
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 1 purchased in 2014
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4

  • Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Sean Howe
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    Overall
    (175)
    Performance
    (158)
    Story
    (158)

    Throughout this decades-long journey to becoming a multibillion-dollar enterprise, Marvel's identity has continually shifted, careening between scrappy underdog and corporate behemoth. As the company has weathered Wall Street machinations, Hollywood failures, and the collapse of the comic book market, its characters have been passed along among generations of editors, artists, and writers - also known as the celebrated Marvel "Bullpen".

    Greg says: "It's as if this book was written for me!"
    "If You're Into Marvel Comics..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...you may enjoy this book. But if you're not, it may not be very interesting. As a fan myself, I personally was riveted. In the last third or so of the book, I felt sad at what I heard. There are good reasons as to why the comics of the 1960s-80s were often quite good and the 90s so dreadful, and they are delineated in gory detail in the book.

    In some ways I regret taking in this book, because any illusions I had about Marvel were shattered. I will never again be able to watch a Marvel movie - or read the comics for that matter - without being aware of the stunning, greedy injustices that were perpetrated upon longtime creators who worked at Marvel, most notably Jack Kirby.

    Quite recently, a judge ruled that Disney/Marvel owns the characters that Kirby created. In another ruling, the creator of Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich, was actually ordered to pay Disney 17K! Even though Friedrich created it - it says so very plainly on the splash page of the inaugural issue - it belongs to Disney/Marvel.

    If you move over to another medium, say, if Stephen King writes a novel, does the company that publishes the book own the rights to the book?

    Many of the ideas that have become substrate to the sci-fi and super hero movies seen today were created by chain smoking guys in tiny apartments in New York City decades ago, for very little money. They did not retain rights to the characters they invented.

    The Avengers Movie of 2012, which mostly features characters created by Jack Kirby, had the biggest opening weekend of any movie ever in North America. It was also the fastest film in history to hit the $1 billion mark, and ultimately grossed $1.51 billion worldwide.

    Kirby's family won't be seeing any of that money; nor would Jack himself, were he alive today.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Shaman

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (78)

    There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories - to teach those who would follow in his footsteps. There is Heather, the healer who, in many ways, holds the clan together. There is Elga, an outsider and the bringer of change. And then there is Loon, the next shaman, who is determined to find his own path. But in a world so treacherous, that journey is never simple - and where it may lead is never certain.

    Shellbin says: "His Best Since the Mars Trilogy"
    "His Best Since the Mars Trilogy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Over the years since I read KSR's Mars Trilogy, when I have told others about it, my descriptions of that masterpiece have tended to include the phrases "science fiction, but in a class by itself" and also, "akin to reading history, but written 300 years in the future."

    While I have enjoyed other books by KSR, none have been able to measure up to the Mars Trilogy - until now. Shaman, too, is a masterpiece. It is nothing at all like Robinson's other novels, which is a good thing - and testament to the author's abilities.

    What makes it so great? First of all, the characters. In Robinson's other works, character development has tended to be something he seems to work at, but perhaps doesn't come naturally to him. With Shaman, his ship has come in. Creating characters who would have lived 30,000 years ago and making them believable is quite an accomplishment. In Robinson's depictions, they are at once Unknowable, mysterious and profoundly ordinary. His use of everyday speech for their dialogue, rather than some wholly imagined, affected "tribespeople" speak (whatever language was spoken 30,000 years ago will likely remain forever completely unknown) is a stroke of brilliance. It's easy for the reader to grasp that the characters are speaking in their own tongue, but with colloquialisms that are synonymic in our language. For example, they might have had an equivalent for "oh, fuck;" or even the quirky meaning behind our present day "mama mia" makes the (single) use that phrase not seem odd, or out of place.

    The second bit of greatness, is that these characters, their actions, and the world they inhabit - both Natural and Spirit - come truly alive. Never again will I look at an ancient cave painting or other ancient art in quite the same way. In Shaman, by books end, Robinson has created an emotionally charged, believable bridge between those artistic creations, their makers and the present moment. This achievement by Robinson is no less than High Art itself. He's created Magic, in which the past is brought to life; for this reader, I am forever changed for the experience.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    Overall
    (1143)
    Performance
    (994)
    Story
    (985)

    No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

    Sparkly says: "Engaging, entertaining, and heartbreaking."
    "I loved this book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    I would place it in the category of "will mean more if you've been following the series."

    It is a bit slow to get going - actually quite slow - however there is a mood to be set and such things take time. The basic story was good, but the thing that made the book truly great for me is how Penny has continued to develop her characters (in this book, Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir). At the point at which things come to a peak near the end, I was actually shaking with emotion - I'd become that involved!



    0 of 0 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
    (6141)
    Performance
    (5839)
    Story
    (5848)

    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 plain old "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"
    "I loved it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Great book. Decent science fiction novels are so few and far between; it was a treat to encounter this one.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Farside

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Ben Bova
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (248)
    Performance
    (224)
    Story
    (225)

    Telescopes on Earth have detected an Earth-sized planet circling a star some 30 light-years away. Now the race is on to get pictures of that distant world that show whether or not the planet is truly like Earth - and if it bears life. Farside observatory will have the largest optical telescope in the solar system and the most sensitive radio telescope, insulated from the interference of Earth’s radio chatter by a thousand kilometers of the moon’s solid body. But building Farside is a complex, dangerous task. And what they ultimately find stuns everyone, and humanity will never be the same.

    Gordon says: "Not super impressed to be honest"
    "If You Like 1950s Sci Fi..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is hard to believe that this novel was written in the present era. At one point, the lead character, in a space suit out on the Moon's surface, asks one of his assistants to go inside and get him a camera. Right. Like in a century from now (or whenever the near-ish future date is) that there's not going to be a camera in his suit - or retina, or...There are several similar instances which reveal a poorly conceived future setting (a pad of paper, conveniently found in a desk drawer, on a limited-supply Moon outpost? Riiiight. Even today, the average N American only picks up a pen every few weeks) etc etc. Then there is the dialogue. It's not just cliché-ridden and cringeworthy, it's also frighteningly dated with regard to the sayings people use and rife with cultural references that are already decades past. MAYBE the author intended to use phrases so old that many of today's 20-somethings wouldn't even know what they meant - just so the book would come off as authentic classic sci-fi from another era. Sort of like what SM Stirling did with his Mars & Venus 'Sky People' alternative reality books a few years back. I sure hope so. The alternative - that Bova meant this to be a modern, credible science fiction novel - is scary to contemplate.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Man On the Moon

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Eugene Cernan
    • Narrated By Eugene Cernan
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    This is the story of a unique American hero who came of age as an astronaut during the few dramatic years when man reached the moon. Cernan's career spanned the entire Apollo program, from the tragic fire that killed three of his comrades on Apollo 1, through the moment when he left man's last footprint on the moon as commander of Apollo 17.

    Ron says: "Great Audio Book Narrated By The Author"
    "Yet Another Perspective"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are points in this book in which Cernan describes being on the moon and a VIBE comes across that is truly amazing. I have read/listened to many different accounts of the Apollo missions, but there is something about this one by Cernan that really stuck with me. Much of what he writes I already knew about, but the bits that I hadn't heard of - and especially, the "vibe" - made this book a real treat to listen to.

    Sometimes it's better to let someone else narrate an author's work, however this isn't one of those times. Cernan's own voice adds a lot to the experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4634)
    Performance
    (3893)
    Story
    (3902)

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Jimmy says: "Epic, Remarkable, Easy & Enjoyable!"
    "Good, But Not His Best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story



    Pillars of the Earth and World Without End were, to me, "10s," whereas Fall of Giants & Winter of the World are more like "6's".

    Winter is mostly compelling, but drags in places. It also has a number of coincidences which scream "novelist at work," which come deep into the book, when the reader should hopefully be fully absorbed into the story. I found myself wishing that the spell were not so easily broken.

    Make no mistake: Follett is awesome; I've read everything he's ever published and jump on each new book immediately, however his new stuff is, for me, "good" rather than "transcendently amazing."

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Iron Gray Sea: Destroyermen, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Taylor Anderson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (703)
    Performance
    (632)
    Story
    (638)

    In Taylor Anderson's acclaimed Destroyermen series, a parallel universe adds an extraordinary layer to the drama of World War II. Now, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy, the crew of the USS Walker, and their allies battle an ever-growing host of enemies across the globe in a desperate battle for freedom.

    Casey Ferrell says: "I want longer books!"
    "Bad."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am amazed that all of the reviews for this audiobook are so positive. Personally, I found this latest installment of Destroyermen insufferable, and that’s an understatement.

    The first few Destroyermen books had their flaws, for sure, but those flaws were far outweighed by a number of positive factors, like the discovery of an interesting new world: who were the Grik, and how about the other humans, from a different time period? Slowly discovering the answers to these questions, as the author gradually unravelled the mysteries, kept things interesting. Now, the sense of mystery is gone. Also, the character development in the earlier books, while not amazing, was sufficient enough that I cared about a number of the people in the story. Now that too is gone. The characters are more like caricatures. The Lemurians, whose heads we actually got inside before, have now been reduced to belittled half wits, always eager to please; I could not tell one from another. It comes off as kinda racist, actually, the way they are portrayed now. The exception is the elder Lemurians who, as before, speak as if they have been not only speaking English for many years, but also doing some seriously erudite studying of vocabulary, idioms and hard core literature, but it seems more extreme now.

    Princess Rebecca’s little pet: profoundly irritating. I’m sure it’ll save her life soon. The exchanges between Matt and Sandra are rife with cringe-inducing, hackneyed lines and are painful to listen to. The Dom: why do so many of these books have an evil religious cult thrown into the mix? (the also-in-a-state-of-downward-spiral SM Stirling Emberverse series also suffers from this, as do a few other recent/comparatively recent fiction outings). And why, oh why, Grik Zeppelins? Zeppelins?

    The originality of the earlier novels has been lost.

    Iron Gray Sea was the last Destroyermen book that I will read or listen to. This is a situation where it may have been better for the author to wrap things up before they got stale - and then started something fresh. I am happy that the majority of the people who listened to the book loved it and are clamouring for more - at least those who have taken time to rate & review. I am not, alas, in that majority.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Andrew Zolli, Ann Marie Healy
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (31)

    Katrina. Haiti. BP. Fukushima. The Great Recession. Those are just a few of the catastrophic disruptions the world has endured in recent years. As we try to respond to such crises, key questions arise: What causes one system to break under great stress and another to rebound? How much change can a complex system absorb while still retaining its purpose and function? What characteristics make it adaptive to change? Provocative and eye-opening, Resilience sheds light on the nature of change.

    Doug says: "Totally Misleading Title"
    "Slow at Points, But When it's Good, it's Good!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this book almost disturbingly slow and downright boring in the beginning, and indeed at certain points further along. It was way too long-winded, and talk about belabouring the obvious! However, some very very cool insights and pieces of information eventually popped out, which made the listen worthwhile. An oft very enjoyable writing style, plus excellent narration - both of which got better and better as the book progressed, also made a big difference. I am very happy that I stuck with it, as by the end, I actually loved the book. At some point I may acquire the hard copy to savour the good bits again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Moon Shot: The Inside Story of Man's Greatest Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Dan Parry
    • Narrated By John Chancer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (74)

    ‘It didn’t matter that they were now three miles beyond their target site, that communications were dropping out and that they were running low on fuel. All that mattered to Neil as he searched for a safe spot to land was that boulders littered the surface below. “Thirty seconds,” called mission control. In truth, the flight controllers were now no more than spectators, just like everybody else. No more needed to be said. It was down to Armstrong

    Jean says: "Fascinating"
    "Wow."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the past year and a half, I have listened to Armstrong's biography, "First Man", Aldrin's autobiography, "Magnificent Desolation", and Craig Nelson's "Rocket Men". All three were excellent; chock full of facts I didn't know previously. Therefore, I hesitating before downloading "Moonshot" - hadn't I heard enough about Apollo? The answer is an emphatic "NO." Dan Parry's opus is simply fantastic. Upon hearing his narrative, I am convinced that an Apollo 11 movie would be every bit as exciting as “Apollo 13” was. (Quick! - somebody make it while the three astronauts are still alive!)

    Parry's book is extremely well structured. He keeps the story of the flight of Eleven going, with alternating sections of equal length to fill in the necessary background information. The editing is crisp, and all of the important facts - including some I had either no previous knowledge of, or had failed to understand clearly before - are concisely covered with no fluff. Parry did his homework very thoroughly; his source material was probably tomes, yet he manages to brings the sheer complexity of the mission into clear focus, in less than 11 hours of audiobook time.

    The use of actual quotes by the astronauts and mission control guys is a real treat. The quotes are integrated seamlessly, and add much to the feeling of immediacy of the book. I loved how well the author conveyed the dramatic moments - and there were some nail biters! John Chancer's narration is also spot on.

    I notice that "Rocket Men" has several positive reviews. It's a great book, I recommend it, but it did not keep me on the edge of my seat like “Moon Shot”. Five well-deserved stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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