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Benjamin

Kalamazoo, MI, United States | Member Since 2011

6
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 133 ratings
  • 294 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2015
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  • Kushiel's Dart

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Jacqueline Carey
    • Narrated By Anne Flosnik
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1260)
    Performance
    (840)
    Story
    (853)

    The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

    Glen Gaines says: "The Kushiel series in order"
    "About What Happened, I Will Not Speak..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Kushiel's Dart?

    That phrase I've cited in my headline shows up entirely too much in such a long book. It seems everything that is interesting, Phedra (the protagonist and narrator) doesn't care to elaborate on. Oh she will drone on and on about the beauty of her people or the mythology of their creation, but get to something with some pathos and it's fade to black. The book already limits the readers vision by giving us everything from its protagonist's point of view exclusively. To have her censor for us as well leaves us feeling second step removed from the entire tale. Hint, if something is not important enough to be spoken of in your account or if its too delicate a matter to confide to your reader, DON'T MENTION IT.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    By the ending, my give a damn was just about busted. Every time the author would pull me in, get me caring about something or someone, she'd shuffle the moment off screen. There was one liaison between Phedra and Hyacinth, two of the main characters, that had been building the entire book. When she finally got there though, it was two sentences and fade to black. The author wasted hilarious amounts of time on banal details of setting, but come a moment of true feeling (or even just carnality) and she'd shy away.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator was fine. She had a good voice, acted well, carried multiple roles. Nothing wrong with that at all.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I'm am giving Kushiel's Dart a hard time. The book had an elaborate detailed and intricate plot. It's what kept me going through all the frustrations with the method and style of its telling. I wanted to know what happened. That's why story wise I rated it higher than the overall rating. She developed a rich world. It was a terrible pity that she decided only to let us peek through a knothole to have a look at it.


    Any additional comments?

    This has the feel of an older style of writing. It is very classy and demure. For a barbarian like me, it was a bit too cultured maybe. If you like material like the Bronte's, I think you would enjoy this text. Don't come looking to be shocked though, because Ms. Carey won't let you see anything too terribly shocking. Her protagonist is too much of a lady to talk about such things.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Clive Barker
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (58)

    Hollywood has made a star of Todd Pickett. But time is catching up with him. After plastic surgery goes awry, Todd needs somewhere to hide away for a few months while his scars heal. As Todd settles into a mansion in Coldheart Canyon - a corner of the city so secret it doesn't even appear on a map - Tammy Lauper, the president of his fan club, comes to the City of Angels determined to solve the mystery of Todd's disappearance.

    Charlotte says: "Lower your expectations!!!"
    "I love Clive Barker... but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Coldheart Canyon better?

    Cutting. The text wanders and indulges itself excessively. The books ends, then it ends again, then it ends again. Between endings it meanders excessively through repeated descriptions of phantasmagoria that become less fantastic with each reiteration. Had the author been a first timer, this never would have been permitted. Barker though is free to indulge his every whim in this text and he does, shamelessly. The telling suffers for it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Clive Barker again?

    As the headline said, I'm a Barker fan. I have been since my late teens. Some of his stuff is great, Imajica comes to mind. Some just good, most of the Books of Blood fall in that category. The man is so prolific, expecting him to hit it out of the park with everything he does is just not realistic.


    What three words best describe Frank Muller’s voice?

    Adequate, multi-voiced and nuanced. I really don't get what all the fuss was in the other reviews degrading his performance. Mr. Muller's voice work has always been good. King's used him on many projects and he tells a story well.


    What character would you cut from Coldheart Canyon?

    Epstat, the studio exec, was pretty unnecessary. He really was there to execute the Barker shoot from the hip antagonist of the mundane attacking and then being repulsed or destroyed my the mysterious true reality. It's a theme Barker runs again and again, through most of his work. In this case, it felt like a formulaic attachment to the main story. He could have been cut, with the lead character's own internal failings prompting him to action without much rework.


    Any additional comments?

    Audible and Crossroads Press have been doing a good job of making more Barker material available for us. I hope they keep it up. If you really want good Barker, his two seminal works in my estimation are "Imajica" and the "Great and Secret Show." To my way of thinking these two books are the high water mark of Barker's literary endeavors. Much of the rest of his material is good (sometimes great), but nothing really hits the transcendent genius of the man like those two works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Feed: The Newsflesh Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Mira Grant
    • Narrated By Paula Christensen, Jesse Bernstein
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1151)
    Performance
    (920)
    Story
    (915)

    The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

    susan says: "I laughed, I cried..."
    "A story about people..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Feed again? Why?

    Yes. Despite a couple of minor editing issues, it's a well told story with just enough difference in its execution to make it stand out as refreshing.


    What other book might you compare Feed to and why?

    Feed's similar to Brook's World War Z in that it's a portrait of people with a back drop of the zombie apocalypse. Feed's focus isn't on horror in the traditional sense, but on how people deal with a world that's been turned upside down and inside out.


    Which character – as performed by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein – was your favorite?

    The primary focus character, Georgia Mason, is the one you get the most "behind the eyes" time with. Despite the occasional jaunts into the heads of the other protagonists in the troupe, the book is really mostly told from her point of view. Georgia's an interesting duck. She's tough, but not heroic in the traditional guns blazing sense. She has a nice mix of pragmatism and idealism that makes her feel very realized as a character.


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

    Don't want to spoil, but yes. There's a particularly devastating reveal, just before the section marked book four in the text that actually teared me up. It was well handled, with only a minor flub in dialog tone at the end.


    Any additional comments?

    The best zombie stories are people stories. No one cares about the shamblers too much. What we're really interested in the people who have to deal with the horrific reality of the walking dead. That story gets told mostly when the zombies aren't "on screen." It's told in their interactions and choices as they deal with other people in the story. Feed really hits on that and does its job well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Skinwalker: Jane Yellowrock, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Faith Hunter
    • Narrated By Khristine Hvam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3459)
    Performance
    (2968)
    Story
    (2974)

    Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she's been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie's Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who's killing other vamps.

    Mobilis says: "How refreshing"
    "Hunter in need of editor... seriously"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Too much repeated exposition. Too much attention the immaterial detail. How many shopping trips do I need to go on with the main character? How many times do I need the main character described to me? How many times to do I need the character loadout (including special hidden underwear pockets) described to me? Answer? Ms. Hunter thinks quite a few times. She'd explain details, then explain them again a chapter later, then again and again. It's like she forgot she'd already told the reader these items, or she assumed the reader wasn't paying attention and so needed to be told again... and again.


    What was most disappointing about Faith Hunter’s story?

    The dreck that got in the way of telling it. I was actually interested in her plot. I wanted to know what would happen, but she sabotaged herself with too much exposition, repetition and unnecessary, boring character physical description. My only other gripe is that the main character herself is pretty schizophrenic. She goes from hard ass biker chic, to gushing nymphet at the drop of a hat. The opener was promising. I like a tough girl protagonist, but then she started waffling all over the place, her libido taking the lead for this hunky guy or that handsome vampire. That stuff has been done... many... many times. It overshadowed the interesting and innovative stuff to the point where I just had to put the book down. I've read other reviews of folks griping about the stream of consciousness style of the "Beast" in Jane's transformed state, but that was some of the most interesting material in the text. It was unexpected and well done, IMO. So I know Ms. Hunter has talent. She needs an editor though to show her how to cut.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator did the best with what she had. That's why I rated her performance as I high as I did. She did a decent job with pulling off disparate voices, portraying emotion, etc.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyance, plain and simple. I could see glimmers of a good story in there, but it piled under so much genre fluff that in the end, I just couldn't stomach it.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pandora's Star

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5064)
    Performance
    (3291)
    Story
    (3325)

    The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some 400 light-years in diameter, contains more than 600 worlds, interconnected by a web of transport "tunnels" known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: Over 1,000 light-years away, a star...vanishes. It does not go supernova. It does not collapse into a black hole. It simply disappears.

    Ingwe says: "Give it a chance"
    "37 Hours and No Ending..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the author had given some sort of closure. The book simply ends. Especially given a reader's/listener's commitment of following along on something this massive in scale, it would have been nice to have some sort of payoff. Any book that leaves me angry and feeling cheated at the end, I can't give a good rating and that's how this left me feeling.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Peter F. Hamilton again?

    Very debatable. This was my first Hamilton book and he's made a very poor impression with that ending. He has epic level scope, don't get me wrong. This was a big story with a lot of moving parts, dozens of protagonists. Think Game of Thrones in space level scope. I didn't expect EVERYTHING to get resolved either. I did expect at least some things though to "close." It makes me curious about what will happen in the next book but also leery of giving the man any more of my time. I think it's a writers job to satisfy their audience. It's why we pay them and this book left me feeling very unsatisfied.


    What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I actually rated the performance as highly as I did because I found the narrator did an excellent job. His characterizations of the different characters had style and while not over the top were quite varied and pleasing to listen to. A poor narrator would have made this text insufferable.


    What character would you cut from Pandora's Star?

    Better to ask which plotline you would cut. The whole SI / Melonie Rescaria plot line could go. Her character exists pretty much to put a human face on the super intelligence and give it an actor in the story. That could have been done with one of the more main protagonists like Paula Myo.


    Any additional comments?

    This book has an incredibly broad and ambitious scope. The main character is really the Human Commonwealth that we see through the eyes of the protagonist characters. It's an interesting portrait and required a lot of talent to pull off. Where it suffers is narrative structure. It's very very slow moving, taking almost 2/3 of the text to start building an crescendo of dramatic tension and it's clumsy in how it releases (or doesn't) release said tension. It's something a good editor might have been able to address, but the scope of the work would have made it difficult just the same.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Daylight War: The Demon Cycle, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Peter V. Brett
    • Narrated By Pete Bradbury
    Overall
    (1927)
    Performance
    (1751)
    Story
    (1760)

    In this heart-stopping installment of the Demon Cycle, humanity continues to struggle against the demon plague - even as survivors hold out hope that the Deliverer will save them all. On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men, both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

    Uber Femme says: "What in The Core happened?"
    "A real cliffhanger..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Daylight War again? Why?

    This is the third in the Demon Cycle and it's the best so far. Brett has taken a long winding road developing these characters into people who feel real. He's given them foibles and follies, had them fail, had them discover things about themselves they didn't like. No character in these books is simply good or evil. They all have complexity and realism that grounds the fantasy solidly. That coupled the impressive detail the author's taken in depicting the cultures and background of his world, makes for an engrossing read/listen.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Daylight War?

    Without spoiling too much, the point of view introduction of the upper caste demons shed some light on what until now has been a pretty homogenous enemy. Several characters diverged from my expectations in this book, which was also a pleasant surprise.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The ending of the book. I won't say much more than that I'm sold on the next, sight unseen. It's so rare the get a really solid ending, but Brett pulled this one off with showmanship.


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

    Several. The unlikely marriage between the young Junglar Roger and his two Crasian wives gave me many smiles. Rena's abuse by her father enraged me so much I cheer when ... well... that would be too much. Needless to say, the reality of this characters makes you care about them and their lives are not easy.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm generally not a fan of serial fiction. I like a story to be told and be done. However, there are a rare few artists who excel at the form. Brett is one of those. It knows how to turn a tale and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Daemon

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Daniel Suarez
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8028)
    Performance
    (4982)
    Story
    (5016)

    Thousands of autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money, and monitoring power grids. For the most part, daemons are benign, but the same can't always be said for the people who design them.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Really Fast Paced Sci Fi!"
    "Smart Thriller for Our Information Age"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Daemon?

    Suarez did a great job of mixing realty and his fictive sci-fi extensions. His Daemon isn't HAL. It's not a thinking computer. It's fiction firmly grounded in what is possible now and extended from there in a plausible fashion. It made for a very believable and thought provoking narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Daemon?

    First thing that pops to mind is the Killer Robot Humvee... that's all I care to spoil for the readers though.


    Which character – as performed by Jeff Gurner – was your favorite?

    I'd have to say the Daemon's minions Grag/Loki and Mr. Taylor(the convict) would have to be my favorites. They had the most opportunity to interact directly with the demon and their narratives were where we really got a feel for being in a world where the Daemon exists. Plus, I'm a black hat as a rule, so I gravitated to the conventional antagonists.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I generally listen on my way to and from work. It's about and hour and half each day and I found that I wanted to carry Daemon into the house and listen while I was doing housework and cooking dinner as well. It was a thoroughly engaging text.


    Any additional comments?

    If you're looking for a thriller that hits you with big ideas as well as suspense and action, look no further. I'm recommending Suarez to all my friends. Home the second book holds up as well as the first.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Discovery of Witches

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11201)
    Performance
    (8545)
    Story
    (8597)

    Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library.

    Tim says: "True Blood PG13"
    "Not feeling it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Readers looking for a supernatural romance novel mixed with a bit of mystery that have a good deal of patience will enjoy this book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Deborah Harkness again?

    Unlikely. I don't care for the writing style. Don't get me wrong, I like wordy long prose. I don't like the switching of forms from first person as her protagonist to third when dealing with her other characters.

    I also don't care for the special snowflake nature of her protagonist. For once, I'd like to see a lead in one of these type of books be less than the forces that surround her as opposed to more than everyone knows. Hell, placing Diana on even footing would have been good enough. Unfortunately though, Diana is bubbling up with "potential" power, even in the first few chapters. It's trope and tired.

    Also, could I have a couple of bland vampires please? I'd like a vampire the Steve Buscemi could get cast as, not these over glossed shiny and beautiful people with their layer upon layer of angst over their immortality. How about a vampire who enjoys what they are? Too much to ask?


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes, narration was fine. Jennifer has a decent voice and though she's not the talented voice actress, summoning up diverse characterizations, she had a decent flow and she's pleasant enough to listen to.


    What character would you cut from A Discovery of Witches?

    Ugh. Two I think, Aunt Sarah and her girlfriend Em'. From what I can tell, these two are there simply to spout exposition about the world and to restate what has already been explained in the narration of Diana (the protagonist's) thoughts. The phone conversations with them are tedious and could easily have been trimmed.


    Any additional comments?

    I haven't decided whether to return this item or not. I tend to suffer through when it comes to a hard text, so I may try to give this one a second chance and carry it through to the end. That said though, a book that hasn't hooked me well enough to make me WANT to continue has failed, IMO.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • It

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5882)
    Performance
    (4501)
    Story
    (4525)

    They were just kids when they stumbled upon the horror of their hometown. Now, as adults, none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them all back to Derry, Maine, to face the nightmare without end, and the evil without a name.

    Parola138 says: "I thought I was desensitized"
    "It never really grabbed me."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about It?

    Flash back blitzkrieg style choice really killed this for me. The book bounces back and forth between the protagonists as kids and adults over and over. The segmentation breaks up the narrative and flattens the characterization of the adult versions in favor of the child versions. What that means in a nutshell is that they never really establish any personality beyond who they are at age 12, in the flash backs. It could be argued that this is a story about children and that's the point. I don't accept that though. These characters never seem to grow up in anything but the details of their described lives. They don't change significantly otherwise.

    Coupled with its length and the amorphous nature of the story's antagonist, you get a book for adults that they really can't relate to or be afraid of. In addition the scope of the power of the antagonist dwarfs the kids to the point where accepting that they could defeat this ancient evil stretches credibility to the breaking point. King tries to elevate their power with his even more amorphous counter force (see echoes of the Dark Tower) and his tales of the Turtle, but it just never rings true. He's reaching for something Lovecraftian in It but falling short because he's unwilling to pull the plug and let his heroes fail. There's a few token casualties as are required in a King book, but in the end the kids triumph and the ancient evil is destroyed.

    Finally, one plot choice at the end of the book struck me as being tacked on and unnecessary. I don't care to spoil the plot point. I will just say that it in itself was more disturbing to me that the whole story of It et all. That little section of the book left me feeling sick to my stomach, not out of fear or horror but out of revulsion. What had been a story about innocence vs. the unknown got twisted by that choice into something mildly perverse.


    Has It turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Nah, I'm a horror reader for years. I don't mind being disturbed. I just don't like to feel like I've wasted my time. This book could have been cut in half and hit the notes it did. It just wasn't worth the time invested.


    Did Steven Weber do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    The narrator was fine. His characterizations were clear and easily understood. This voice range wasn't as diverse as some, but he told the story well.


    What character would you cut from It?

    Beverly. She's at the core of the warped plot choice I mentioned and the dynamic of her character plays to a powerless and abused trope that just gets played too often to be entertaining or acceptable. King needs to try for a strong and whole female character for once as opposed to the broken little girls he pulls up again and again.


    Any additional comments?

    I love King's writing as a rule. He's one of the best storytellers of our century. That said, not every piece he puts out is golden. Some are simply good, a few, like It and the later Dark Tower books, fall flat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Claw of the Conciliator: The Book of the New Sun, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (358)
    Performance
    (224)
    Story
    (229)

    The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

    Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

    Ryan says: "The strange world deepens"
    "Great if you like all middle..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No, I wouldn't, because it gives no sense of resolution. This is the second of the series and like the first the book begins in the middle and ends in the middle. I picked it up because the world the author is painting is an interesting one, so I figured I'd give the series a second chance. However as a story the book doesn't hold up well. The language is imaginative, descriptive and enjoyable to read/listen to. You feel immersed as you're traveling along with the character, Severian, through his journey. In fact it picks up right where the last one left off. Quite exactly so and because the last book had no ending, this is more like a continuation of the first than a second book. Unfortunately, like the first, it can not stand on its own. With no ending, there's no emotional payoff. For me, I need that piece of closure. This book essentially just runs out of pages, as if there's more to be read, but someone has stolen those chapters (or opted to sell them to you in guise of another novel). To me, that "style" is disingenuous and feels like a cheat. So no matter the raves this series has gotten, I think I'm going to take a pass on the rest of it.


    What could Gene Wolfe have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Opt for a more conventional story form with a hook, middle, ending. Trite I know, restrictive I know, but the forms exist because they supply a need. I don't mind some ambiguity and I understand the need to keep a series going. However, to get me to follow along and need an occasional piece of cake and not just a trail of crumbs.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favorite?

    The entire story is basically told from the point of view of Severian. Some small characterizations are done, but they are thin, basically Serverian's characterizations of them, not Jonathan Davis's. Evoking Severian, Davis does an adequate job of and he's a good narrator. I just think the story limits him.


    Was The Claw of the Conciliator worth the listening time?

    No. On it's own, this book does not stand. The series, taken as a whole may, but a book needs to stand on its own merits for it to be worth my time. This one does not.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm really torn on this series. I get the stylistic choices that have been made here and I respect that, but I have to be honest. I simply didn't enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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