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H James Lucas

contemplator of typography, mixology, and archivism

Manhattan | Member Since 2011

42
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 66 ratings
  • 362 titles in library
  • 68 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Howard E. Wasdin, Stephen Templin
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2061)
    Performance
    (1574)
    Story
    (1575)

    When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six—a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes listeners deep inside the world of Navy SEALs and Special Forces snipers, beginning with the grueling selection process of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL - the toughest and longest military training in the world.

    Allan says: "unique among these books"
    "Compelling experiences lost in a sea of chichés"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dr Wasdin's compelling recounting of SEAL training and his involvement in a complex and now infamous mission in Somalia would have made for a solid, four-hour nugget of an audiobook, but instead we are left with this soggy, amateurish mess that stretches to nearly ten hours. The extra content comprises clichéd anecdotes of bar fights, marital hardships, and petty one-upmanship; poorly contextualized (albeit likely justified) anti-bureaucracy rhetoric; and a handful of hackneyed renditions of Vietnam-era SEAL lore. Dr Wasdin, a soldier and a chiropractor by training, is evidently a competent storyteller but not a gifted writer, and his co-author and editors have failed in bringing his most vital recollections to the page.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lock In (Narrated by Wil Wheaton)

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1624)
    Performance
    (1515)
    Story
    (1521)

    Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

    Alexis says: "Fun! Things you might want to know:"
    "Intriguing premise wasted on average cop story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As with past works by Mr Scalzi, Lock In is a light and entertaining story that doesn't quite do justice to its compelling underpinnings. In this case, Mr Scalzi has fashioned a world in which 1% of the population are physically paralyzed and escape their bodies by directing their awareness and cognitive function into alternate frameworks. Some choose a non-spatial internet; some choose synthetic android bodies; a few choose bodies of "Integrators"—healthy humans who lease-out their bodies on an hourly basis. Unfortunately Mr Scalzi treats the first category merely as a MacGuffin and thereby severely limits the novel's potential as a work of true speculative fiction. Instead the reader is treated to a standard-issue cop story with a pleasant veneer. Lock In is told competently but without the liveliness that elevated some of his past novels. Mr Scalzi proved to be deft at writing dialogue for lawyers in Fuzzy Nation and fast-talking agents in Agent to the Stars, but his ear for dialogue has failed him here: the cop-talk is stale and predictable. A more adventurous book could have survived such weaknesses, but Lock In is timid in its scope and never quite recovers from its failings.

    The narrator's sex is never known, so the option of listening to a male or female performer makes some sense. I alternated between Ms Benson's and Mr Wheaton's performances, and for whatever reason, the narrator became female in my mind, so perhaps Ms Benson's voice was the more significant for me. Mr Wheaton, on the other hand, is the brisker of the two and thereby imparts some extra energy into the story. All things being equal, I would recommend his performance.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lock In (Narrated by Amber Benson)

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Amber Benson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (469)
    Performance
    (418)
    Story
    (430)

    Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

    Anthony says: "Love Amber's Narration"
    "Intriguing premise wasted on average cop story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As with past works by Mr Scalzi, Lock In is a light and entertaining story that doesn't quite do justice to its compelling underpinnings. In this case, Mr Scalzi has fashioned a world in which 1% of the population are physically paralyzed and escape their bodies by directing their awareness and cognitive function into alternate frameworks. Some choose a non-spatial internet; some choose synthetic android bodies; a few choose bodies of "Integrators"—healthy humans who lease-out their bodies on an hourly basis. Unfortunately Mr Scalzi treats the first category merely as a MacGuffin and thereby severely limits the novel's potential as a work of true speculative fiction. Instead the reader is treated to a standard-issue cop story with a pleasant veneer. Lock In is told competently but without the liveliness that elevated some of his past novels. Mr Scalzi proved to be deft at writing dialogue for lawyers in Fuzzy Nation and fast-talking agents in Agent to the Stars, but his ear for dialogue has failed him here: the cop-talk is stale and predictable. A more adventurous book could have survived such weaknesses, but Lock In is timid in its scope and never quite recovers from its failings.

    The narrator's sex is never known, so the option of listening to a male or female performer makes some sense. I alternated between Ms Benson's and Mr Wheaton's performances, and for whatever reason, the narrator became female in my mind, so perhaps Ms Benson's voice was the more significant for me. Mr Wheaton, on the other hand, is the brisker of the two and thereby imparts some extra energy into the story. All things being equal, I would recommend his performance.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4184)
    Performance
    (3861)
    Story
    (3860)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even as it goes through the motions of standard detective fiction, this second Cormoran Strike novel admirably expands upon the well-rounded central characters established in The Cuckoo's Calling. As a former soldier and a natural detective, Strike lends himself to comparison with Lee Child's Jack Reacher, but where Reacher is personalized with a few token interests (notably coffee and mathematics), Strike is painted with softer strokes. He's introverted, yes, but his contact list defies the easy-to-apply label 'loner'. He is vexed by his family, but he embraces them with more than a mere sense of duty. He feels the desire to have a couple pints with lunch, but he recognizes the formation of bad habits and avoids them with some effort.

    His receptionist-turned-protégée Robin proves to be equally well-rounded, particularly with respect to her fiancée. In a clumsier novel, her engagement to a side character would be nothing more than a burden for Robin to shed in the name of character growth. In Ms Rowling's nuanced world, however, the relationship is a genuine reflection of Robin's increasing confidence, and it bends and adjusts to her development with impressive realism. Whether or not the relationship will or should survive is far from a given.

    Yes, the plot is fine too—it'll scratch the itch for those that crave a mystery to solve and concludes with reasonable coherence—but mystery plots are a dime a dozen. Characters like Cormoran and Robin are not.

    Robert Glenister is well suited to this series, managing to narrate with both a seriousness and a lightness that matches Ms Rowling's remarkably well-balanced voice.

    24 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5)

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Minnie Goode
    Overall
    (1426)
    Performance
    (1297)
    Story
    (1295)

    This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

    Charles says: "Unique"
    "Captivating world undermined by amateurish writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much attention has been given to Wool's unusual path to publication, which was undertaken by Mr Howey alone through Amazon's Direct Publishing program. Sadly, the lack of professional editing is made evident on just about every front. The pacing of this five-book omnibus begins briskly but slows with each successive section, terminating in a painfully bloated Book Five. Character development is shaky at best and downright lazy at times, with characters' apparent level of intelligence and awareness fluctuating from scene to scene in subservience to the heavy-handed plotting. Mr Howey even adds a heavy dose of gratuitous adverbs, a pitfall every first-semester creative writing student is taught to avoid.

    These massive flaws are a all the more regrettable because in Wool Mr Howey had conjured a reasonably interesting world, and in more deft hands the concept could have spawned a truly good story. H.M. Hoover proved as much in her 1980 novel This Time of Darkness, which, despite being targeted squarely to readers of middle-school age, still offers a great deal more to the discerning reader than the amateurish work that is Wool.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joyland

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Michael Kelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3296)
    Performance
    (3044)
    Story
    (3045)

    Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.

    Cozy Reader says: "The sweest and creepiest coming of age story!"
    "An infectious performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Shortly after listening to Joyland the week after its release in the summer of 2013, I gave Michael Kelly's performance three stars. It was professional, it was nicely paced, and it was pleasant, but it didn't blow me away the way that Craig Wasson did with Mr King's previous novel, 11/22/63. Listening to it again now, I can't find anything that directly contradicts that first impression, but in the intervening months, my thoughts have often drifted to Mr Kelly's reading. His quiet performance fits in so perfectly to the canon of Summers Past, where Scout Finch is drinking a Co-Cola, where Gordie and his friends walk the tracks in search of a body, where Radio Raheem blasts Public Enemy from dawn to dusk. Joyland is a nice piece of writing and well representative of Mr King's past decade of work, but it's Mr Kelly's performance that is sticking with me months later in the dead of winter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • True Grit

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Portis
    • Narrated By Donna Tartt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1978)
    Performance
    (1138)
    Story
    (1144)

    Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

    Tommygaus says: "So worth it!"
    "Solid performance marred by poor production"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This production of True Grit features a solid reading by novelist Donna Tartt. From her heartfelt essay at the end, it's clear that this novel means a great deal to her, and her plain, direct performance is a good match for Mattie Ross's straight-faced narration. It would have been a pleasure to hear Ms Tartt's performance if this production had received professional treatment in the editing booth.

    Unfortunately, Ms Tartt's reading is marred by amateurish production quality. Lip smacks, swallows, and inhalations punctuate her words through the six hours. Clearly audible at many points are the soft clunks of a water glass being set onto the table. Less significantly (but still irritatingly), the length of pauses varies erratically. The result is more befitting the Librivox catalog of free audiobooks, where home-recordings are the norm. It is simply not up to the standards of Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Railsea

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By China Mieville
    • Narrated By Jonathan Cowley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (75)
    Story
    (74)

    On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one's death and the other's glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea - even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she's been chasing since it took her arm years ago.

    H James Lucas says: "Talented Mr Cowley a mismatch for Railsea"
    "Talented Mr Cowley a mismatch for Railsea"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    China Miéville's writing is both dense and fragmented—reading it aloud is no easy task, so it is no great criticism of Jonathan Cowley to say that he is not suited for the role he has assumed in narrating Railsea. His reading is warm and personal, but he stumbles on the nuances of the language—those the finicky inflections and the odd staccato that characterizes the calculated casualness of Mr Miéville's distinct voice. Much is lost as a result, and the narrative seems murkier and less impressive than it does on the page.

    It would have been more difficult to isolate the faults of Mr Cowley's performance had it not been for narrator John Lee's masterful renditions of previous works by Mr Miéville. Mr Lee has a rare crispness in his delivery that allows Mr Miéville's punctuation to survive the transition from the written to the oral miraculously intact. We can only hope that he will bestow his talent on Railsea somewhere down the line, for this novel, while not as awe-inspiring as Mr Miéville's best works, is still worthy of the best possible delivery.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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