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kevjenn

Northern Virginia | Member Since 2001

4
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 48 ratings
  • 426 titles in library
  • 57 purchased in 2014
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  • It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Thomas E. Mann, Norman J. Ornstein
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (141)
    Story
    (143)

    Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein identify two overriding problems that have led Congress—and the United States—to the brink of institutional collapse. But they offer a panoply of useful ideas and reforms, endorsing some solutions, like greater public participation and institutional restructuring, while debunking others, like independent or third-party candidates. Above all, they call on the media as well as the public to focus on the true causes of dysfunction rather than just throwing the bums out every election cycle.

    Scott says: "A No-Nonsense Look at our Current Political Crisis"
    "Still a good read even though election is over."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of It's Even Worse Than It Looks to be better than the print version?

    Not sure.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Not applicable.


    What about William Hughes’s performance did you like?

    He was good reader.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction but it did help with focusing my ideas and thoughts on how politics works today.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a worth a read by anyone interested in learning about why our political system is so screwed up. Spolier Alert: one party is more to blame than the other and yes that would be the Republican party.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Kraken Project: Wyman Ford, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (290)
    Performance
    (266)
    Story
    (269)

    NASA is building a probe to be splashed down in the Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Saturn’s great moon, Titan. It is one of the most promising habitats for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, but the surface is unpredictable and dangerous, requiring the probe to contain artificial intelligence software. To this end, Melissa Shepherd, a brilliant programmer, has developed "Dorothy", a powerful, self-modifying AI whose true potential is both revolutionary and terrifying. When miscalculations lead to a catastrophe during testing, Dorothy flees into the Internet.

    Jacqueline says: "Kraken Project? Not Really!"
    "Computer Professionals Beware"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are many issues with this book and while it is not the worst of the his solos novels (that would be Blasphemy) it is right down at the bottom of the barrel.
    (minor spoilers)
    First off, if you work with engineering or developing software your suspension of disbelief is going to have to do some heavy lifting. The AI is pretty much a fanciful creation. He does attempt explain why such an AI is impossible but he can't deliver on how the AI is able to over come these intractable issues to be conscious. Oh, he does give a reason ("one simple trick") but it is super super silly.

    Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez handle the concept much better.

    Second, the antagonists in the story was super weak. In this case, all readers' suspension of disbelief will have to do some heavy lifting. (again spoilers). I found it hard to believe that the Wall Street banker was so smart to make a billion dollars but also so stupid to kill people he had meet and other people new he had met. They left so much evidence behind it was just absurd. This is just an example of some week writing. It would be much more interesting for the bad guys to figure out ways of killing people that would draw less attention to themselves. Plotting is import.

    I like Wyman but it seams with each book we get less of him. He wasn't necessary for this story at all. He seemed like a tourist.

    Preston attempted to give the other characters some depth but I never bought it. Most of his characters were pretty unlikable or annoying or worse just plain boring.

    I did like seeing Tom Broadbent back again. Also I thought reader was pretty good. And thankfully it was short; speed listened to it a day.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Strindberg's Star

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Jan Wallentin, Rachel Willson-Broyles (translator)
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (2)

    The Arctic, 1897: Nils Strindberg crashes his hydrogen balloon during the mysterious Andrée Expedition to the North Pole. Germany, 1942: Gruesome and inexplicable experiments are performed on concentration-camp prisoners. Sweden, present-day: Cave diver Erik Hall finds a dead body wearing an ancient ankh, buried deep in an abandoned mine. Religious symbol expert Don Titelman seeks out Erik to study the ankh, but finds Erik dead. Don is the prime suspect, and soon he's being chased across Europe.

    webtraverser says: "A Mix Bag."
    "A Mix Bag."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like stories with crazy plots like James Rollins or Preston & Child. They fall into the pulp tradition and no one would confuse them with great literature. Dan Brown falls in that category too but I draw the line at reading Dan Brown because to me his stuff is just boring.

    This books aims for something more literary. In some ways it is a character study. Sadly the main character is a bit boring. The plot often moves at glacial speeds and in fact I stopped listening for months before recently finishing it up. I am glad I did because the payoff was quite satisfying.

    One pleasant surprise was when the Nazi's show up (common for these types of stories) it is done in a most original way.

    The audio book has two parts (you know, "to make the download faster"). The first third of the first download is good. It gets then gets real slow for awhile only to finally pick up again in the second download. My listening to it at 1.5x speed might have added to it moving along better in the second part, If I was doing the faster speed when I listened to the first download I might have liked it better. Not all readers sound good at increased speed but this reader was quite good.

    I think if you like thrillers with mixed in "unearthed arcana" and don't mind listening to higher speeds I would say it is worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kraken

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By China Mieville
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (596)
    Performance
    (336)
    Story
    (333)

    With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

    Caveat Emptor says: "A New Favorite Author"
    "A Literary Chimera"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Kraken?

    I liked Mieville's deft use of humor and absurdity. The story, while completely original, was assembled from tropes of multiple genre's. From sci-fi to fantasy and from whodunit to horror, he kept the listener wondering what literary DNA he would splice in next. The story and plot were top notch, never slowing and very tight, the characters had a surprising depth, and most importantly it all held together for something very rare indeed: the satisfying ending.


    What other book might you compare Kraken to and why?

    Anything by Douglas Adams or Neil Gaiman but that's pretty much expected. More violent than either of them but certainly of their ilk.


    What about John Lee???s performance did you like?

    John Lee was perfect. His range of characters was impressive and his voice was incredible.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No spoilers here but there is a bit about Star Trek matter transportation technology that was quite poignant.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Geographer's Library

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Jon Fasman
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    When a 12-century Sicilian cat burglar snatches a sack of artifacts from the king's geographer's library, the tools and talismans of transmutation, and eternal life, are soon scattered all over the world. Nine hundred years later, a young Connecticut reporter finds evidence that someone is collecting them again.

    Harry T says: "Brilliant first novel from Jon Fasman."
    "So Much Promise, So Little Delivered"
    Overall

    I have to say I looked forward to this one. I like these type of mysteries and I thought this one might be good. Saddly, I realized too late that Fasman never really had a story to tell. On the face of it, it sort of tells the story of a library's contents, which are good little vignettes. However, there are only the most superficial connections with the characters in the present day. I was not a fan of the Da Vinic Code but at least it had a plot; I really couldn't find one here. The descriptions of the items from the library seem to come out of nowhere. Also, the significance of the artifacts is not clear. Fasman had some interesting characters but I found myself feeling nothing for the "narrator" and couldn't have cared less if he died. When I read, or in this case listen, to a story, I want to be changed by the story and this story left me unaffected. In closing a real waste of time.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • State of Fear

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Michael Crichton
    • Narrated By George Wilson
    Overall
    (2109)
    Performance
    (529)
    Story
    (535)

    Once again Michael Crichton gives us his trademark combination of page-turning suspense, cutting-edge technology, and extraordinary research. State of Fear is a superb blend of edge-of-your-seat suspense and thought provoking commentary on how information is manipulated in the modern world.

    F says: "Did I read the same book as some of you?"
    "Not a good outing"
    Overall

    Not Cricton's best outing. I have to say I was somewhat disappointed with this listen. I know that when you are reading Cricton you are not reading him for his character development. Still his plots are very good and his science is always interesting. This time around his plot was bad. By far the weakest one I can remember. That left just very unlikeable characters. I think I may have read that he doesn't care much what his characters think but in this book he seemed to spend a lot time in his characters' minds and yet we know almost nothing about their motivations and desires. Add that to an unusual weak plot and you have quite possibly Crichton's worst effort. Still some of the 'factual'information is interesting and I will be looking up his sources when I see a hard copy of the book.
    As for the production, this was by far the worst I ever listen to. One should not be hearing the readers stomach noises. If I had bought it in the store I would have returned it and next time it happens on Audible, I will demand a restored credit or a least a verison that is acceptable to listen to.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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