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Richard

Jacksonville, FL, United States | Member Since 2001

65
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 399 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • City of Thieves

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By David Benioff
    • Narrated By Ron Perlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1435)
    Performance
    (705)
    Story
    (702)

    A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds. Lev Beniov considers himself "built for deprivation." He's small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building.

    Paul says: "Stunning Tale. Great Narration."
    "too little, too late"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a difficult book to hang with. The first half dragged unmercifully, and finally picked up in the last third. But the style of writing was pleasant enough, and on occasion the dialogue was pretty good. Having listened to Turow's Ordinary Heroes, this seemed a bit derivative, but not nearly as well written. But the worst was the narration. Ron Perlman is an adequate actor, but a horrible narrator. The monotone that he used in the base story was so numbing, I was afraid to listen to this while driving (my main venue). Thankfully he did a better job on dialogue, but there wasn't enough of that to offset the rest. This is one of those rare listens in which I found myself imagining what the words looked like on the page and then reading them to myself as they should have been read. Very distracting. I recommend that if you have a few hours and enjoy bleak WW2 stories, you get the printed book, but avoid this version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Steel Remains

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (449)
    Performance
    (225)
    Story
    (230)

    In just a few short years, Richard K. Morgan has vaulted to the pinnacle of the science fiction world. Now he turns his iconoclastic talents to epic fantasy, crafting a darkly violent, tautly plotted adventure sure to thrill old fans and captivate new readers.

    Forest says: "This isn't your father's gay hero!"
    "Morgan owns another genre!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've somehow gravitated to fantasy lately (e.g., the Mongoliad), but this one takes the cake. It does for swarthy, sword-wielding heroes what the Kovacs trilogy did for regular sci-fi. I was a bit reluctant because the hero, Gil, is very different--spoiler alert, he's gay--than every other main character in this field; still, my respect for Morgan's works forced me to push my prejudices down and give it a listen. Halfway through and so far nothing has managed to throw me off, and there's nothing as graphic as Six Feet Under managed to put on the airwaves. One of the attractions of RM's other works has been his vivid (some might say lurid) narratives of Takeshi's erotic exploits; fortunately, we don't get the same level of detail with Gil (so far). Ah, well, something for everyone. And admittedly, there is no shortage of heterosexual passages in here....

    The method of unraveling the plot is much the same as in his other novels--it's a Gordian Knot. Much has to be, if not taken on faith, at least deferred until later in the story as salient facts get sprinkled around to explain just what the hell is going on. This is one of the things that makes Morgan so damnably good--he doesn't coddle the reader with a linear exposition of who and what something is, or how they are related...the reader must come to put it together as the story progresses. And the descriptions of scenes and things are as poetic and vibrant as any Morgan fan has come to expect. So, in short, this is highly recommended. If you are gay, you might enjoy parts of it more, if not...it's a small price to pay.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Christopher Moore
    • Narrated By Euan Morton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1141)
    Performance
    (993)
    Story
    (1004)

    In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his life... and then walk a mile to a doctor's house for help? Who was the crooked little "color man" Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue? These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent's friends who vow to discover the truth of van Gogh's untimely death.

    Melinda says: "Is Nothing is Sacre'?"
    "Almost Excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know who told Christopher Moore that his books were too linear, too predictable, but whoever did, stop it. I am a huge CM fan, and love all his books, especially the interlocking characters, but this one was tough to love. I don't recall giving less than 5 stars for any CM book review, but I had to drop this one beause my mind is still spinning from trying to keep up with the plot. Maybe it's more like literature this way, but it was hard to follow. It ends up being an excellent story, and maybe there was no other way to tell it, but the back and forth and minimal exposition of what was happening was frustrating. I can still recommend it as a good book, but it was my least favorite Moore opus.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Coyote Blue

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Christopher Moore
    • Narrated By James Jenner
    Overall
    (719)
    Performance
    (281)
    Story
    (284)

    With New York Times best-sellers like Bloodsucking Fiends to his credit, Christopher Moore has developed a devoted cult following. Coyote Blue introduces Samuel Hunter, a young man who's running from his past while being tormented by an ancient Crow God with a talent for mischief.

    Mari says: "You Can't Go Wrong with Moore"
    "Finally got to it--worth the effort"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to almost all of CM's other works, but for some reason avoided this one. The description just didn't grab me...don't know why. Maybe it was a fear of the author's "initial effort" and concern that he had just recently honed his craft to the fine edge that it is. Not to worry. I loved this one as much as some of the other lighter works. It can't stand up to Fool or Lamb, or probably not even Fluke (IMHO), but it had heft. It was funny, charming, witty, a little wacky; in short, all the good stuff that Moore has shown he is capable of in his later works. The age of the book makes a few isolated references dated, but you can hardly notice. A strong recommend, even if you choose it as your first one. Good character crossover, BTW, between many of the books, starting with this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shadows in Flight

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki, Emily Janice Card, Scott Brick, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1506)
    Performance
    (1355)
    Story
    (1367)

    At the end of Shadow of the Giant, Bean flees to the stars with three of his children--the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten - a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.

    Brittani says: "Great Build Up, and then Just Ends"
    "Loved what was there"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I hate to give an OSC work less than 5 stars, but I couldn't muster it for this one. The work is top flight, as usual, but it's only 1/2 a book. Mr Card admitted it was designed differently for economic purposes, and I suppose I knew it would be less than when I bought it, but once involved, it was different. There were so many questions left hanging, hints to future storylines laid out like a tease...it was frustrating. I am happy to have the story continue (and where, BTW, are the stories of Ender's journeys as SFOD?), but it ended too soon. [Sad face emoticon.]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Christopher Moore
    • Narrated By Bill Irwin
    Overall
    (648)
    Performance
    (257)
    Story
    (259)

    Just why do humpback whales sing? That's the question that has marine behavioral biologist Nate Quinn and his crew poking, charting, recording, and photographing very big, wet, gray marine mammals - until the extraordinary day when a whale lifts its tail into the air to display a cryptic message spelled out in foot-high letters: Bite Me.

    Jill says: "Entertaining story, as usual!"
    "Moore Doesn't Disappoint"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a steadfast Christopher Moore fan, I had been running out of material to read that appealed to me. Fool, Lamb, the Vampire episodes, all were outstanding; a story about a whale researcher? Really? But I was "between" other stuff, so I gave it a shot. What a hoot it is! Well written, parts that are laugh-out-loud funny, and much dry wit regarding the human (and cetacean) condition. A very pleasant surprise. I loved it, and if you like Moore, you will too.

    (Loved the Kona character--Yah man, as Ja say, whales be our brudders, ya know. Great stuff.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alas, Babylon

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Pat Frank
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3907)
    Performance
    (2882)
    Story
    (2885)

    This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness....

    Evelyn says: "Excellent listen"
    "A true classic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Calling a book a "classic" can be hyperbole, or just a way to say, it was a nice but boring "old" book. In some cases, however, like this one, that title truly means that the message, characters, and story remain vibrant and relevant through the generations. True, the nuclear terror that consumed us in the 50's did not come to pass, and many modern readers have no frame of reference for those times; yet, I found myself thinking about other times in Florida when similar conditions existed for much shorter periods, such as during and after the destruction left by hurricanes, and how people did react in some of the ways described in this book. The survival instinct is strong in us, but so, too, is the drive to help our fellow man. It is a story about the universal human condition, and thus still quite relevant.

    For those not familar with the plot, the setting is a small Florida town immediately before and largely after a nuclear war between the U. S. and Russia, during which most major Florida cities (all big cities, in fact) and the accustomed infrastructure ceased to exist. It chronicles the struggles of the survivors of the initial attacks and how each comes to deal with the new life of survival in his or her own way. There are some references that worked better when the book was first written, but it is by no means dated.

    My reasons for buying this book were varied. I had read it as a teenager, and was not overwhelmed, but mostly because Pat Frank was not a big deal to me then. My father was a good friend of Pat's and was even mentioned in some of his other works. The familiarity thing, I suppose. It took another "reading," when I was old enough to understand some of the situations of the characters, for me to appreciate Pat's style and skill in writing this. It isn't Shakespeare, of course, but it is worthwhile and, I think, worth your time. I recommend it.

    The narration was a bit off-putting at first because the narrator sounded like someone I should have recognized and I was trying to figure out who it was. And the southern accent, though appropriate for the locale and the time, took some getting used to. Less than 1/3 of the way through the book, however, I had settled in, and now can't imagine it being read any other way as effectively.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Free Short Story: The Elephant Vanishes

    • UNABRIDGED (41 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By John Chancer
    Overall
    (1018)
    Performance
    (864)
    Story
    (868)

    “The Elephant Vanishes” is a free short story found in the short story collection The Elephant Vanishes: Stories, from Haruki Murakami – Japan's leading contemporary novelist and one of the world’s most important figures in postmodern literature.

    Darwin8u says: "A Good Introduction to Murakami"
    "I missed it..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...the point, that is. This book talked a lot about the nuances of a disappearing elephant--that was it. The selection was pleasant enough, as good or better than several of the free books or intros I have downloaded, but....I just didn't get it. Maybe the focus was to emphasize that we need to look at life differently sometimes, or maybe that life is a mystery that often can't be solved and should just be accepted. I don't know. Guess I didn't try hard enough. Still, my preference in books is to be entertained, enlightened, uplifted, etc., not merely puzzled. If this is, as described, postmodern fiction, please leave me in the past.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Altered Carbon

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3262)
    Performance
    (1478)
    Story
    (1486)

    In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

    Jake Williams says: "Altered Carbon"
    "An Excellent Surprise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This author was recommended in a magazine article, which doesn't often carry much weight given the unknown differences between the writer and the reader of the article. But I needed a book for my Next Listen so I gave it a shot. Am so glad I did. If you are not a sci-fi fan, you can stop reading now, as this is a heavily weighted sci-fi version of a noir detective novel. Unlike many sci-fi authors who take pains to give background on the "new" world in which the story takes place, Morgan seems to take pleasure in teasing the reader with a flurry of words, concepts, historical events, and images that are unexplained and (often) confusing. As the story unfolds, however, bits and pieces are dropped so that the puzzle comes together slowly in the reader's consciousness. Maddening, and yet wonderful at the same time. The story rockets along with breathtaking action, steamy sex scenes, and gut wrenching violence, all described tastefully (yeah, I know--that seems unlikely, but it's true) under the circumstances. In the middle of this swift-flowing plot, Morgan casually drops a concept, or an image, or a reference to a historical event that the reader must store away for when it is explained later. Sometimes it isn't so much explanation as understanding by inference. This book was the most challenging in that regard since Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange (I didn't find the glossory in the back until I finished). It takes a bit of surrender to not let the unfamiliar stuff knock you out of the story flow. I have now downloaded 2 more of Morgan's works and look forward with a mixture of excitement and sadness to the end of Altered Carbon--sorry for it to be over, and excited to move on to another of Morgan's novels. Like Orson Scott Card's stuff, this is excellent writing that just happens to be science fiction. It may not have the extensive character development of a Card story, but it is hell on wheels in the action department. BTW, the narration is top flight as well, and provides an excellent immersion int he noir environment.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Matt Ridley
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (255)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (183)

    Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators.

    Scott says: "Great book!"
    "Great title, boring book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of the few books in my Audible history that I haven't finished. Got it because of the title....very catchy. Unfortunately, it's just a pschological treatise on a narrow subject that every once in a while throws in a reference (sometimes abstract) to Alice's Red Queen. Probably would have been better to buy it based on its merits (as to which I have no opinion) but it was a disappointment based on expectations the title produced. Essentially a one trick pony.

    9 of 27 people found this review helpful

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