It pains me to give a mediocre review to any Sci Fi series, especially that of Star Wars, and such a rich and deep plot period of the Old Republic.
Whereas the the other previous titles tied to this era stood out, I really felt as if Annihilation was just a retread of so many story telling cliches and could have been told in any genre...just change the character names and setting and you've heard this tale 100x before.
There were two exceptions to my review, however. First, narrator Marc Thompson does a really nice job of playing so many voices. He really has a distinct take on the dozens of characters within this story which I think is amazing. Although, once in a while he does tend to get a little to over-the-top and emotionally frenzied during climatic or action packed sequences. Second, the only really interesting parts to me where that with Darth Karrid and her role on her capital ship, the Ascendent Spear.
Truthfully, I would have liked to have had the author focus more on Karrid and her ship and make that a story onto itself. It would have been much more interesting and ominous than the other predictible elements.
So the title of my review isn't the best, but I'm having a hard time on how to adequately explain why I think this version of Killing Pablo is just shy of missing the mark (IMO).
It should be said, Mark does a good job on narration. He's clear, succinct, and could probably narrate other like books as a full time job. 4.5 stars there.
So why 3 stars for the story? A few reasons...1) This is an 'Abridged' version, and as clearly as I knew that, I would have really liked for the producer/publisher to spring for an Unabridged version. I always feel slightly cheated, especially when it comes to biography and history like books, if I know that certain parts were 'cut' out for whatever reason. 2) I think the origin and early years of Pablo could have been fleshed out a bit more and more dug up on his early background. While there is a chunck contained within the early stages of the narrative, it seems that the listener is short to adopt that Pablo is a full time cocaine/narco dealer within the first 1/2 hour. Finally, 3) there's a bit of supposition, speculation, or convenient 'filling in the gaps' in sections where there just aren't any hard facts or evidence. I'm sure this is true of just about any crime or historical biography, but sometime the listener is just supposed to accept 'best-guesses' as to what may or 'probably' happen. The line of logic is clear in these cases and most can probably surmise that many events played *close* to how it was described, but we'll never know 100% for sure.
The epilogue was a nice addition, but again, I think it could have been expanded a tad more. Where are Pablo's kids and wife now? What other ramifications were there between Columbia and U.S. relations other than the obvious? There's more rooted to be explored in some of the politcal fallouts on each side, but I understand it may stray slightly from the topic at hand himself, Pablo Escobar.
The first thing I want to address right off the bat,(and no disrespect meant), is that narrator Alan Sklar sounds exactly like Stacy Keach. The whole time I was listening, I couldn't get Stacy Keach out of my mind. Needless to say, Mr. Sklar did a fantastic job and was a pleasure to 'listen' to.
Okay, so the story itself: If the few times that the date was mentioned (mid 70's) within was actually witheld, there is no reason why the reader/listener couldn't accept that the story didn't take place today. That in essence is a key aspect as to how decent a book can be, that it's main premise can withstand a time gap of 40+ years and still feel as if it is current.
Although most people today probably picked this up as a background to Silence of the Lambs (like me), you will find that the gold that is Hannibal Lecter is somewhat shorter than one would expect. His few chapters are indeed riveting, and the few notions in which Thomas Harris plants the seeds of how Hannibals mind and machinations work sadly have very little payoff in the novel as a whole. Hannibals insertions within seem like an overall tease with Harris alluding to events between Will and Lecter, but the full background is never realized piquing the interest of the listener...but never really delivering.
The first few chapters in which the crime scenes are reconstructed are very well done, walking us step by detailed (and gruesome) step and sets up the overall story on Will's quest to apprehend the "Tooth Fairy" (aka Red Dragon). In this aspect the first 1/3rd of the book was phenominal, but then the story seems to downshift a bit and take on more of a formulaic detective procedural which seemed to be lacking the physcolgical and twisted elements I was hoping for. The brief backstory (or pehaps 'origin', if you will) of the Red Dragon in his youth was interesting and forming, but when brought forward to his present day events, the Red Dragon himself seemed to lose some of his own mystique in my opinion and seemed rather ordinary other than the mandatory anti-social quirk and physical issues....but really nothing out of the ordinary (maybe I'm not being fair...perhaps I'm just de-sensitized from watching too much 48 Hours or other police procedurals).
Towards the end, chapters are slightly shorter and take on a slightly faster pace and the payoff was somewhat predictable but at least satisfying, although not great. And of course, there is the obligatory Lecter reference in the end which is nothing more than brief 'fan-service', but doesn't matter one way or another. That being said, still one of the better crime-stories I've read/heard in a long time and is a nice introcudtion to the Lecter universe.
After reading many of the other review headlines, I really was expecting a nail biter when it comes to the occult and frightening true tales, however, it came across a little softball to me.
Oh, I don't discount any of the cases as fiction or unbelievable, but in regards to the subject matter involved, I was expecting something much more darker and pooky than it actually was. In no way am I making light of the occult nor would dare to trifle with it, but the cases described in the book came across a lot less menacing and terror inducing than others would have you believe. I'll even go as far as to say author Gerald Brittle held back quite a lot (granted the print copy is 30+ years old).
Narrator Todd Haberkorn does a fine job, and does quite well in emulating various emotions and interviewed conversations (playing the roles of both Lorraine and Ed as well as others), but as good as he was, it just seemed that there was something missing to make this downright chilling.
There is a lot on various subjective explanations of the unexplained and while many of Ed's observations, writings, theories, and experiences are well detailed, it sometimes does feel both a bit convienent and repetitive all the while glossing over how humans interact with the spiritual realm. I know if this were me, I'd not only be a more serious, I'd be downright scared for my soul....but then again, he and Lorraine dealt with this material for years and perhaps became someone conditioned or 'used' to it.
Contained within are a focus of 4 or 5 infamous cases, all of which were interesting and had moments of being spooky, but nothing that sent me running for cover. In fact, since it is mentioned that Ed and Lorraine have many a audio recording they had collected over the years of said cases, it would have been a bonus to include snippets of these are bonus material on an audioook such as this. It's been done with other audio books, so I'm actually surprised some weren't included here....now that would have made me jump out of my skin. But in the end this reads/narrates like a slightly edgier version of the Travel Channel's series "Ghost Adventures" than it does a horror movie where your soul in in jeprody.
After previously being enthralled with Killing Lincoln, this was a no-brainer...although accurate documentaion is a bit more scarce from 2000 years ago as opposed to 150 years, this book does a nice job of filling out the 'feel and politics' of Jesus' time.
The first 4 to 5 chapters had very little to do with Jesus, himself, but in-fact a historical portrayal and insight of the various kings, leaders, despots, and backgroudn leading up to Christs birth. So enthralling to me as it was, I almost hope that Bill goes back and does a book on Killing Caesar, Killing Tiberius, or even Killing Herod. The outlining of events, politcs, leadership and day to day life of those principles were fascinating and even though this book was ultimately about Killing Jesus, I would have been very happy with expansion on the first 4-5 chapters. I really did get a feel for the times, and I'm glad I didn't live back then!
The rest of the book was infact about Jesus, his teachings, and ultimately about the Jewish and Roman financial corruption at the time. While very well done, I did find some of the interjections 'speculative' at best, and we will never know exactly how a person reacted or handled a situation. We can 'assume' how things were handled because there is evidence to support Bill's findings, but to 'know' exactly what was in someone's heart, mind, motivation, or agenda is folly.
I found it a bit strange he detailed the resurrection of Lazaras, but skimmed many of the other miracles. And even less was said on the Last Supper than I would have expected.
While O'Reilly sticks to the script that we all grew up on, and added some additional insight and factual refrences (all good), I felt that there were some points missing. I have to temper that with the idea that this book was about 'Jesus', however, that being said, I would have liked to hear more about Pilate's wife (who had some influence on Pontious), the two thieves on the cross, more details on traditional embalming methods, more background on Niccodemus, and some discussion on how today's archelogical findings point to 'two' possible burial sites (the garden tomb vs the Holy Seplechur site).
The arrest of Christ in the garden seemed rushed. While it was pointed out that Simon attacked a guard and cut of his ear with a sword, there was zero mention of Jesus reportedly healing the guard on the spot. The whole section seemed a scant few sentences at best.
While I don't find anything erroneous or questionable in Bill's accounts, I think he could have expanded more in the last chapters. He speaks of Jesus' 40 days here on Earth after the ressurection, but there is nothing said about modern day Golgotha, the tear of the temple veil, Church of the Holy Seplechur, etc.
These additional details alone could have easily added up to another hour of rich history.
Believe it or not, I have't yet seen the movie, but plan to now that I have finished the book. If you haven't been living under a rock this past decade, you pretty much already know the gist of the story and the controversy surrounding the book that religious circles have crowded around for sometime now.
Well, let me first say I am a Christian, and never felt one iota of doubt in my faith after listening to the book. I understand that this is in-fact a 'novel' which the author (in a very nice audio interview addition that appears at the end of the reading) re-iterates is a 'fictional' account on 'what-if' and 'possibles', not as 100% fact, so hopefully you won't let political and religious ignorance get in the way of a good yarn.
I enjoyed this tale on the foundation of comaprison to movies like 'National Treasure' or 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'...the story itself is inspired by actual events and documented history, but with a lot of conspiracy and X-Files like cover-ups and investigations. I think that Brown does a phenominal job of weaving in art history, symbology, secret societies and blending in religion as a 'plausible' turn your beliefs upside down story.
Narrator Michael does a great job in portraying various characters, even the female lead. His renditions are rife with in the moment emotion, and he obviously speaks pretty good French as well from his accents.
I won't summarize the story, that's what all the other reviews before mine have done, but here are a few notes why I would score the story as 3.5: A) At times, the dialogue between characters can be a tad long-winded. They can take a sentance and turn it into a paragraph easily. B) There are a few conversations that seem repetitive...throughout the book, a few things are touched on, and then touched on again, and circled back a third time. C) Sofie's reluctance of divulging her grandfathers secret on what she saw years ago gets a tad annoying at a point, until the 'reveal', but preior to that moment, author Brown teases us mercilessly about her secret, and in the end, I didn't really think it was a big deal. And finally, D) there are a few minor loose ends I felt cheated on what the outcome was.
The nice thing about the unabridged edition was the two audio extras at the end, one with the screenwriter talking about adapting the book with Ron Howard and David Brown, and the then the audio David Brown himself talking about his book to a large crowd. I give him a lot of respect for explaining 'his' beliefs, and as a Christian, I didn't feel slighted at all.
Overall, a good entertaining read/listen.
Wow, just wow.
As per usual, Tom Clancy continues to weave a web of threads into a very plausible and action packed techno-war novel. But, of his last few offerings, this one had me captivated from the first few chapters and I could barely put it down. A record for me to finish an audio book this quickly, and wanting more, more, more.
It's a nice transition for many of his characters as well,. As some of Clancy's mainstays get older and mature he does a nice job of passing the torch by introducing some new characters I hope to see in future installments which is a good sign that an author can adapt and grow his universe as time marches on.
Lou Diamond Phillips does an incredible job of providing very distinct voices and accents to a menagerie of characters with clear pronunciation and timing. I hope he'll do more for Clancy.
As far as the story goes, I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the thought of Big Brother, cyber-attacks and cyber warfare just became extremely credible for me after listening to this and very plausible. The idea that hackers can infiltrate the CIA, military satelites, banking systems, the national power grid, and more with various ramifications described within is chilling and fascinating. The most unlikely bad guys of the future won't need guns, missles, and muscle....just a MIT degree and a keyboard to wreak havoc abroad.
This novel never let up. The only reason I cannot give it 5 stars is that the ending, as powerful as it was, left a few loose ends that deserved more time. **Possible Spolier** I needed to know more about the motivation behind 'Center'...and his demise was a bit lackluster. I want Gavin, "Trash" and Adam fleshed out more...hopefully in future installements. Seems like a few characters didn't get their full due in this novel even though they may have played an integral part (Clark, Lipton, Kovolenko, etc.) What happens to the ROC, Taiwan, India, etc....That may be a bit nitpicky for a 20 hour novel, but it is just that good and I really got invested in these characters to have the book end in teh fashion it did...too quickly.
The one thing that can be said about Stephen King is his wide range and genres of novels. It never ceases to amaze me how versatile his creative energies go, and this novel is no different, and throw in "time-travel" and I'm in.
In general, 11-22-63 plays out like a very long episode of the Twilight Zone. There are some interesting elements up front and a few points to keep you hooked, but the pay-off really comes in the last few hours of this event with some fun surprises and plausible alternate timeline ongoings.
However, the journey can be a bit long at times. To be honest, some of the chapters felt like filler material and didn't do much to move the story along, especially in the middle, and quiet frankly didn't lend much to charcater motivation or development either. Not that these sections were bad, but you could have skipped a few hours here and there and seemingly pick up later on and not miss too much.
Craig Wasson as a narrator was pretty decent. Although the main character, Jake, starts the book at approx 35 years of age, Mr. Wasson does sound a bit older. That being said, he does a fine job of delivering emotion and mood. He also has quite the repotoire of various voices and almost recognizeable impressions. But I had trouble at times listening to his portrayal of the femeale lead, Sadie. She often came across and very faux, sing-songy, and sometimes annoying.
Finally, even thought this novel is about the Kennedy asassination, I was really surprised how 'blue' and 'left' some of Mr. Kings passages were. There were downright political biases contained within, and while I understand this is his novel, I couldn't help but recognize some shots being taken to those that may stand right of center, pushing his own personal politics into a fictional story.
And as I mentioned earlier, as drawn out as the book can seem at times, the final hour makes up for it. All though not every question is answered in definity, the ending is quite pleasing and leaves the listener to maek up his/her own mind what may have happened next...just like any good Twilights Zone episode.
I admit I love the 'true crime' genre including the various biographies and just find them utterly fascinating.
"The Ice Man" was no exception, and was a well researched and paced. The tales and history of Richard Kuklinski are downright riveting and chilling and I don't recommend for young children to be listening. The details described within are both jaw dropping and stomach churning at times and I can't help but wonder how do people go through life like this...without emotion or care for human life.
Once the 'biography' portion is over, make sure you continue to listen at the end for there are actual taped interviews with Kuklinski himself as he speaks to a psychologist behind bars. I can understand why HBO did so well with his taped confessions years ago.
As much as I was hooked into this tale itself, I had two overall issues: 1) The narrator Michael Prichard is a bit one-dimensional. That's to say he doesn't have much range, and everyone more or less sounds the same after a while. At times he also sounds as if infact he is reading too liertally and certain nuances in storytelling get lost in monotone delivery. 2) Gratuitous swearing. I understand this is "mob" talk, but I have a feeling some of the dialogue between chracters was not only embellished (no one was there to record some conversations), or the person speaking is in fact dead so the author can only surmise what actually went down as being said. I found the "F-word" was liberaly dropped throughout, and at times almost ridicously so. So much so, that I couldn't help but feel if the conversations were 'punched' up a bit to meet Hollywood standards. I don't know anyone who swears like that, and even listening to the Kuklinski interviews at the end, he didn't swear that much.
That being said, it is well worth the listen to, and will prompt me to purchase other like audio books in the genre.
Not sure what to expect, I gave this little short a try and was pleasantly surprised overall.
The performance of the narrator was superior for the most part. I could easily identify all the various characters that Sophie Eastlake was voicing. She has a nice range of accents, quirks, and abilities that lend individual traits to each character. She does a great job of both voicing the main character and the inner thoughts/dialogue of that character as well, and does a nice job of putting teh right emotion and inflections that sound like real converstaions. Although, her portrayal of Sam, the male lead, was the only issue I had. Sam came off a little over-acted at times, but I suppose it can be hard for a female to voice a strong male character realistically.
The story itself was quite entertaining and unique. Despite the fact it is in a collection named "Undead in my bed" it never became too sultry, erotic, or raunch. It was just right to tell a modern day 'love' story between two unlikely characters from two different worlds. At times it could be funny, others somehwat interesting, and a unique take on a somewhat familiar story. The supporting characters did a lot to flesh this out without becoming too overdrawn or shoe-horned in.
I always know I like a story that when it's over, I wish it would have keep going. Even after clocking in at just over 5 hours, I think the author had the potential to almost double it and keep my interest. And that's coming from a guy.
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