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Michael C

Cross-genre tastes, but a soft spot for great Science Fiction and Fantasy

Santa Rosa, CA | Member Since 2009

22
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 3 reviews
  • 8 ratings
  • 555 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
307

  • Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5062)
    Performance
    (4659)
    Story
    (4658)

    Acclaimed author Michael J. Sullivan created instant best sellers with his spellbinding Riyria Revelations series. This first volume introduces Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy bigger than they can imagine, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery - before it’s too late.

    Magpie says: "Two books in one - keep listening!!"
    "Just the Good Parts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Riyira Revelations was undoubtedly my favorite Fantasy series from 2012. Sullivan clearly has a firm grasp on the series and where everyone's headed from the first pages of the novel. The result is a deeply engrossing tale with fleshed-out characters, a rich, imaginative setting, and plenty of swashbuckling roguery. It's a satisfying story from beginning to end.

    I'm reminded of a notion from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. The frame of the Princess Bride is that it's actually an abridgment of a much longer, much more boring story. Goldman later discovered that his grandpa cut out a lot of this boring stuff when reading it to him as a kid. The version he heard was just the action, adventure, and fun stuff. You know, "the good parts". Well, Theft of Swords is very much a "just the good parts" novel.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Prepare to Die!

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Paul Tobin
    • Narrated By Ray Chase
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (70)

    Nine years ago, Steve Clarke was just a teenage boy in love with the girl of his dreams. Then a freak chemical spill transformed him into Reaver, the man whose super-powerful fists can literally take a year off a bad guy’s life. Days ago, he found himself at the mercy of his archnemesis, Octagon, and a whole crew of fiendish super-villains, who gave him two weeks to settle his affairs - and prepare to die. Now, after years of extraordinary adventures and crushing tragedies, the world’s greatest hero is returning to where it all began in search of the boy he once was...and the girl he never forgot.

    Michael C says: "A Superhero's "Behind the Music""
    "A Superhero's "Behind the Music""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Imagine if Wolverine from the X-Men had written a tell-all autobiography á la Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends or _The Kid Stays in the Picture_ by Robert Evans. You'll be pretty close to the overall flavor of _Prepare to Die!_. It dishes up action, existential ruminations, feel-good nostalgia, adolescent angst, and a few genuine surprises along the way.

    Prepare to Die! imagines a superhero universe from the ground-up, replete with the internecine conflicts, epic battles, and agonizing betrayals that normally unfold over the run of a comic book series. The book is written in an in-universe, autobiographical voice. Its "author" is a superhero known as Reaver -- so-called because he can take a year off a person's life with each of his punches. Reaver is writing for an audience that already reads about superheroes in tabloids and watches them on TMZ. Superheroes are are as much a target of the paparazzi as they are of supervillains. The in-universe audience already knows the characters. They know their stories, but they don't know the _whole_ story.

    The story starts off with our hero, Reaver, facing down his arch-nemesis Octagon. Reaver is losing badly. He's cornered, out of options, and has literally no fight left in him. As Octagon prepares to administer the coup de grâce, he delivers the bad guy boilerplate: "Prepare to Die!" Reaver ponders this and responds: "Ok. How long do I have to prepare?" Surprisingly, Octagon agrees to give him some time to prepare to die. This sets off an existential journey through Reaver's past. He examines the genesis of his superhero powers and persona. He takes a trip back to his childhood hometown to see the love he lost when he took up the superhero-ing life.

    I'm not a comic book afficionado by any means. Case in point: I was completely unaware that Paul Tobin has a day job as a comic book writer, writing storylines for Spidey, the Fantastic Four, etc. He may be sticking to the writer's adage of "write what you know", but the book is much better for it. Tobin writes well, and uses the novel format to meander seamlessly from the present-day story through Reaver's past triumphs and tragedies.

    Ray Chase's gravelly narration is a perfect fit for the world-weary Reaver. Great casting, and a great example of a book that should be listened to rather than read. Next story Chase narrates, I'm going to have a hard time separating him from the Reaver.

    Criticisms? Well, the female characters tend towards the one-dimensional. Not entirely, and not in all cases, but more often than not. Also, the ending doesn't entirely make sense when you think about the book's intended in-universe audience. But, what the heck. This is a really, really fun book. By turns, it's thrilling, heartbreaking, and, above all, genuinely surprising. I came to it with no expectations, was hooked within a few chapters. By the end I was completely won over, and can't wait for Tobin's next book.

    3 of 3 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
    (4131)
    Performance
    (3088)
    Story
    (3093)

    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"
    "How to Survive an Atomic Bomb"
    Overall
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    Story

    I didn't grow up in the duck and cover era, but I get the sense that Alas, Babylon is exactly the kind of "what if?" story that was lurking in the collective subconscious of Americans during the late 50's / early 60's.

    Although it was written over 50 years ago and was, in fact, among the first post-apocalyptic/survivalist fiction novels, it never feels dated. One quickly forgets that we've moved from telegrams to text messages. Anyway, if we're imagining that society and infrastructure have collapsed, a post-apocalyptic 1959 probably wouldn't be that much different from a post-apocalyptic 2013.

    This is a story about people in a small Floridian town struggling with the fallout (both figurative and literal) of a nuclear blitzkrieg that's wiped out most of America. The book's preface indicates that the idea for the story came from a conversation with an acquaintance who asked him what he though a sneak nuclear attack from "the Russkies" would look like. The author had worked as a government consultant and written on cold war-era military topics. He simply told the acquaintance that he imagined some 50-60 million American lives would be lost and left it at that. Alas, Babylon was his attempt to humanize what a loss of this magnitude would actually look like for those who survive. As a result, the story takes place on a smaller stage. It's about one man and his community trying to survive and cope with the loss of loved ones, the loss of infrastructure, and the loss of purpose they had in their former lives.

    Will Patton is stellar as narrator, delivering a haunting performance. It's impossible to see the book without hearing him shout the novel's titular "Alas, Babylon!"

    Highly recommended, and would make a great first listen for someone who's interested in post-apocalyptic fiction.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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